Thursday, June 26, 2014

No Thirst


"Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

We can go without food for a reasonable amount of time, but we cannot go without water. Clean water is essential to our lives each day. It affects our physical health and it must be clean water to stay healthy.

Jesus is our pure and clean water, our soul cannot live without His life giving and eternal water. the woman at the well said to Jesus “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water." John 4:15

Jesus is truth, and His truth sets us free. He sets us free to stop drinking from the polluted waters that we drink over and over trying to fill something in our hearts that can only be filled by Him. We need His water so that like the woman at the well, we do not keep getting thirsty and continue drawing our water from the wrong well.

 Drinking from these wells of addictions, shopping, pop culture, self image, seeking after wrong relationships to fill us, entertainment, computers, video games, seeking status and materialism lead us to continue drinking from a bottomless well that will never end. We come back to these wells drawing polluted water again and again and our thirst is never satisfied. There is in the soul of every person a deep longing to drink from the well of eternal life. Not knowing where to find it, so many drink out of the wrong wells.

As we drink of and seek Jesus and His living water, there is peace and rest. The heart rests and drinks of the true living water. This water fills and satisfies. The polluted water it once drank is cleansed and removed. The things we once drank are no longer acceptable as we drink of the one source of water that is truly pure.

"And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail." Isaiah 58:11

So many times we try to drink of Jesus' water while continuing to drink polluted water at the same time. We wonder why the wholeness and purity we seek is not rooting itself in our hearts. We have to resolve to drink only His pure water and be committed to throwing out the old, dirty water that once polluted us. The clean water and the polluted water are not compatible--- mixing the dirty with the pure will pollute the clean water.

"For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water." Jeremiah 2:13

Drinking of Jesus' holy and eternal water of salvation requires that we only drink of Him and He will never allow us to thirst. He wants us to be willing to say "yes, Lord" and drink of Him only, and forsake our old, "dirty" drinking water. This means forsaking old ideas, mindsets, habits, materialism, idolizing ourselves and what He speaks to each individual heart. Drinking of His living water begins to purify us and He makes our new ways life giving and pure.

Sometimes it may seem we are the only one seeking after and drinking the clear water. While others say to us "come on, a little dirty water won't hurt you....everyone does it...."  Jesus is truly the only source of life giving water we can drink from now until eternity. We will never be left unsatisfied for His water is truly pure.

Prayer: "Lord, you are the source of life, life for the soul and eternal life. Show me the polluted water I am drinking so that I will only drink of your pure water. I know that as I drink only of your purity my heart and soul will come alive and the fountain of your living water will flow from my heart, renewed and strong in you, the One and Only true source of life. Amen." 

"Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." John 7:38

"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb." Revelation 22:1

"During an earthquake it sometimes happens that fresh springs break out in dry places which water and quicken the land so that plants can grow. In the same way the shattering experiences of suffering can cause the living water to well up in a human heart." -Sadhu Sundar Singh

"It is one thing for the living water to descend from Christ into the heart, and another thing how--when it has descended--it moves the heart to worship. All power of worship in the soul, is the result of the waters flowing into it, and their flowing back again to God." -G.V. Wigram

Thursday, June 19, 2014

God's Handmaiden: Elizabeth of Hungary


Elizabeth of Hungary---Helper of the Poor



Daughter of a king, wife and mother of princes, Elizabeth used her royal revenue for the distressed. During a famine she fed nine hundred at her palace gate. She helped build a hospital and cared for the sick.

Although she died when she was only twenty four, the story of her consecration to God and her noble acts of charity has continued to inspire many to a higher way of life for more than nine centuries. 

She was the daughter of a king, and the wife of a prince, but she wore her regal honors humbly. She gave up her fine clothes for a plain grey Franciscan robe and wore it with such grace that others were uplifted by her queenliness. She lived in a troubled time of cultural confusion, but she brought freshness and poise wherever she appeared.

Elizabeth was born in 1207 in the royal castle of Pozsony. She was reared in Wartburg Castle, a gray structure that rose from the mist and snowy pines of a Thuringian forest near the medieval town of Marburg in Hesse. At Wartburg she spent a very happy childhood, but when Elizabeth was seven her mother died, and she learned as a young girl to take her perplexities into the Wartburg chapel. 

She came from a deeply religious family. Her mother, Gertrude, belonged to a long line of Christians. Her mother's sister, Hedwig, founded a convent for lepers after rearing her six children. Her father, Andrew II, was noted for his generosity toward the church and the poor. 

At only 14, Elizabeth married King Louis IV. She and her husband agreed to rule their people justly and to welcome religious orders into their castle. 

Elizabeth had four children, and after the birth of each child she walked barefoot over the rough roads to St. Katherine's Chapel. She thanked God for the delivery of her child and recited the Psalm: "Children are a heritage of the Lord; and the fruit of the womb is His reward. As arrows are in the hands of a mighty man, so are children of the youth." (Psalm 127: 3-4)

Elizabeth's life of good works and devotion had roots in her early training. In her childhood she had heard from her father the story of St. Francis of Assisi. The secret of his life became the secret of hers. Like him, she was sustained by a double joy, the joy of love and the joy of suffering for love. She said of Jesus "do thou, by thy most bitter death, give me a lively faith, firm hope and perfect charity." 

Among the miseries of Elizabeth's age was leprosy. The lepers in their coarse gray gowns were dreaded and loathed, and many were forced to wander till they died. Elizabeth, remembering that Christ ate in the house of a leper and that He bade His disciples to heal the sick and cleanse the lepers, devoted herself to the most menial service for these poor creatures. She eventually built a home for lepers.

At the end of her life, she renounced all material things---in her heart she had long before abandoned them---she found greater spiritual fulfillment. Again she served the lepers, the aged, the poor. She took the vows of the Third Order of St. Francis, wishing to eschew the pomp of the world for the love of Christ.

It is said of Catherine, "she no longer felt herself a princess but His humble servant."  Elizabeth learned to accept all of her trials by thinking only of Christ's suffering and of how people had mocked Him too. 

She was a royal princess who sought to be glorious within.

(All information from "Great Women of the Christian Faith" By: Edith Deen)


Revolutionary Mothering


"All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children." Isaiah 54:13

As Jesus was with His disciples traveling, eating, teaching---He showed them His grace by example. Jesus walked beside them with their flaws and doubts and faithfully showed them the way to God.

If Jesus had not been faithful--- His character an example reflecting God's face, His disciples would have not walked with Him so steadfastly. They saw in Him virtue, character, healing and joy to be emulated and modeled. They trusted Him, cried for Him and loved Him. In order to develop this relationship of faith and trust, they had to be with Jesus. Jesus showed them He loved them by giving them His presence. He did not give His disciples short "time boxes" in which they got His time and then He moved on to the next thing He had to do. He simply gave them himself as they walked with Him and trusted Him.

The disciples saw Jesus retreating to pray, and then faithfully continuing His mission. If Jesus had booked Himself up with parties, shopping, the gym, events and hobbies, how would His faith have been modeled to those following Him? Instead Jesus walked the slow pace, mostly teaching by the example of His love.

"He showed them the full extent of His love during His ministry on earth, and now He loved them to the very end." John 13:1

As mothers, we can be revolutionary in our children's lives. Loving them, walking beside them, teaching, training and by God's grace, modeling Jesus' love. Our example is more to them than our words. They need to see a life invested in loving them, one that shows our devotion to them and the faith that will grow in their hearts. Playing with them, singing, reading the Bible together, talking and walking together---the daily life---sows seeds of tenderness and love of the Savior. A child's heart has a longing to be filled by a mother's slow paced, all encompassing love. Children walk by their mother and want to be pulled into her embrace and they need to know her arms are welcoming, just as Jesus' arms are welcoming to all the sheep of His flock.

We must slow down, and give up that which is not bearing fruit in our lives. Unnecessary busyness to make ourselves feel important, that we are "busy" is not God's way. A mother abiding with Jesus on a daily basis is able to find the path of God and take her children by the hand and walk beside them on it. Our children don't care about our being involved in every church activity or multiple obligations, they care that we are involved with them, that we love them and are always there for them. Children do not see love by all the activities they are involved in, while they may seem to be thriving, there is a place in the heart that needs to be filled that they are unaware of.

As Jesus showed His disciples how important they were to Him by His focus and love for them, our children need to see our love by our focused and slower paced lives. They can rest knowing their mothers loving and devoted arms are always there and they learn that Jesus' loving and devoted arms will never fail. Jesus gave us all of Himself, no dark corners of His heart hidden, no part "kept for Himself." May we do the same with our children, modeling revolutionary mothering, as Jesus modeled revolutionary love.

"And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.  I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you." John 13:14-15

"Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother." -Lin Yutang

Prayer: "Lord, show me how to mother by your example. Show me your ways and teach me your truths that I may reflect you to my children. Give me wisdom to know what is unimportant and to give my children all of myself, just as you gave yourself. Amen."

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Great Mothers: Anthusa


"Anthusa's son John became a great Christian leader, so renowned for his preaching that he earned the name Chrysostom, meaning "Golden-Mouthed..."

Anthusa, the mother of St. John Chrysostom, devoted her life to her son. He became one of the great preachers of Christianity.  Anthusa lived in Antioch, the starting point of Paul's three missionary journeys. Her husband Secundus, an illustrious man in the Imperial Army of Syria, died when their son John was an infant, leaving her widowed when she was about twenty years old.  

Although she had the means to give her son a good education, she dreaded bringing him up amid the corruptions of Antioch. But the burden of rearing him, she later declared, was lightened for her by God's support and the joy of seeing her husband's image reproduced in her child. 

Her chief endeavor was to nurture her son in the highest qualities of Christian character. In his formative years she taught him to love the Bible, and he later spoke of the influence of an early and intimate acquaintance with the Scriptures. From this, he said, came his enthusiasm for the good, his moral energy, his aversion to ostentation, his zeal for justice and truth and his steadfast faith. 

Anthusa had inherited the literary spirit of the Greek philosophers and poets and transmitted much of her classical knowledge to her son. It was also her guidance that started him on his career as preacher and expositor of the Bible, for she inspired him to study theology under the noted Diodore of Tarsus.

Later, John said that "the Bible was the fountain for watering the soul." Though he reveled in his classical education, he drank still more deeply of the things of the spirit from his mother at 

Anthusa devoted her life to her son, who became one of the greatest preachers of Christianity. 

(All information above from: "Great Women of the Christian Faith" By: Edith Deen)

"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

“What is the ultimate purpose of a “phileo” kind of love? It is nothing less than the salvation of our children’s souls. This is the chief end of mothering. Our goal is not that our children be happy, fulfilled, and successful. Granted we may desire these things for them. But our highest objective should be that our children would repent from their sins, put their trust in Jesus Christ, and reflect the gospel to the world around them.” – ~Carolyn Mahaney~ 

Devoted Servant


 "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men." Philippians 2:5-7

In God's kingdom to be a servant is considered an honor. God gives us a great honor to serve our families and others even in the hardest of circumstances. Just as Jesus considered it a privilege to be called God's son and counted worthy to serve so we must learn from the mind of Jesus. Having a mind and heart of service sets us free. "Let this mind be in you..."

As Christians, having the heart of a servant is freedom. God knows that what really enslaves us is our own selfishness. Sometimes what causes great conflict is the ideas we hold onto, the attitudes that are caused by selfish hearts. If living a life of serving self is so freeing, why are so many unhappy? So many Christians are walking a path of unhappiness and strife. The true source of freedom, Christ, requires that we live for others. Living enslaved to self will never produce true freedom because "self" was never made to be worshiped and served. True service is worshiping God, serving Him and that produces a heart renewal to serve others.

"But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life." Romans 6:22

God doesn't ask us to be slaves in the traditional way society thinks. When we are set free from sin (the real bondage) we are then led to be Jesus' servant, who died to set the captives free. The false idea prevails that if we die to self our life will be miserable and a life of drudgery. Yet God teaches us that death to self means no longer serving that which is not fruitful. Serving ourselves and our own interests cannot lead to life when we are not God, the true fountain of life. One can never be truly Jesus' servant, while continually serving ones self, the two cannot coexist. In each person an idol has to be toppled, and it is self and serving ones self. These two things, self and God, did not compete with each other in Jesus' heart. "For even Christ didn't live to please Himself..."Romans 15:3

"He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
    that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free..." Luke 4:18

Jesus is not only speaking of people who are only physically imprisoned, or visibly oppressed. He speaks of all who are in bondage to any sins and in bondage to the enemy. Anxieties, doubts, the past, and the darkness that can overtake the mind and heart. Jesus came to be the bondservant to release us and set us free. When we are set free from ourselves, God's freedom reigns. Jesus was truly free from Himself. He did not walk the walk of living for His own career, hobbies, materialism or His own "goals." Glorifying Himself in this earthly life was of no importance to Him. Truly, he was God's servant, the Holy One whose life was lived for God. In God's kingdom, He is exalted and sits at the right hand of the Father.

"When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven." Hebrews 1:3

Jesus taught that "Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” Mark 9:35

As hearts are molded into servants hearts, it produces humility and gentleness. This heart can see God, because it is no longer in bondage to itself. The heart's idols have been toppled. It is set free to serve Christ and truly get to know the One who was, is, and is to come. The one who is unchanged yesterday, today and forever. 

Today, there is bondage to so many things. Self image, working out our bodies to "look better" than others, our minds, our smarts, our educations, materialism, wealth, media, entertainment, houses, perfectionism, overly busy and active social lives, how much we "achieve" in the world's eyes,  our own hobbies---all these things that we think must take importance. And as we live in bondage to these things, we cannot find true life and freedom. These things enslave us to the world, Christ sets us free to have eternal life. These things enslave us when they are given an idolatrous place in our lives and we reduce God to less than He should be. God cannot be worshiped and truly known, when the focus of our hearts is on the worldly things. God's kingdom will reign forever and the things we lived enslaved to will pass away. Life will have been lived for that which is death to the soul, rather than that which is life to the soul.

In Lamentations God tells us what living under the yoke of the world will produce: “He wove my sins into ropes to hitch me to a yoke of captivity. The Lord sapped my strength and turned me over to my enemies; I am helpless in their hands." Lamentations 1:14

Jesus tells us "Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:29

We must be Christ's servants and live for that which will never pass away. Being a servant in God's kingdom is freedom. A willing heart that is able to set aside the yoke and habits of the world's temporary kingdom, to embrace the yoke of the eternal, is one that finds rest. The soul is no longer weary, but free to serve the One who is freedom.

Prayer: "Lord, show me the practical ways that I can live as your servant in my life right now. Show me how to do this in the every day things. Show me how to serve my family and others in freedom without thought to self. It is the small tasks that are the greatest to you. Show me how to cast off the slavery that I have been taught and clothe my heart and mind anew in the freedom you so freely give. Amen."

"The fire of God's love must burn up self love and self will and let the soul appear, beautiful and full of grace, as it was meant to be when God created us." ~St. Catherine of Siena 

"And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
-Philippians 2:8-11



Thursday, June 5, 2014

Ambition for Quiet


"...and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you." ~

~1 Thessalonians 4:11

Living a simple and quiet life used to be considered a spiritual discipline that would be wise to pursue, in our modern society quiet is becoming outdated; a forgotten virtue.

Quiet leads to peace and peace is Christ. One who lives a quiet life has more time to abide in Christ, more time to worship while doing the simple work of life, the daily tasks. The quiet heart can do the tasks as unto God. God knows the one who lives a quiet life has time to get to know Him.

Quiet is in the soul, the mind, and the heart. The quiet is in resting the entire heart at the feet of God. It is going about the daily work of life while the heart is resting in Him.

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." Colossians 3:23-24

A quiet heart and spirit is one that has learned that there is no replacement for living in the peace of God. It is a heart and spirit of one who has removed a lot of the worlds clutter from life; one who seems mysteriously satisfied with little. The quiet life does not have a lot of vain ambition. 

A quiet and still heart has learned that cluttering up life with too many outside things that aren't from God begins to bring anxiety and fatigue. The quiet life is one God asks of us. In His wisdom He knows that anxiety, fatigue and chaos are brought on as a physical symptom of a spiritual sickness; lack of peace and spending time with God. God gives us His simple work to complete in our lives. He does not fill our plate with the extras. He asks us to be happy, delighted, and peaceful with the simple work He gives us.

As we obey God in our simple and quiet work, we see Him and know Him. He walks with us, guiding us, and pours out His peace. We are not idle or lazy, the work we are given is completed well.

We are so cluttered today. Activities and Facebook, Pinterest, entertainment and pop culture. Constant bombardment. There is not time to live simply and refreshed with God's peace. These things clutter us and layer us with an excited spirit, one that is not satisfied and one that begins to live life at a fast and frantic pace. We are designed for rest with God, it is a longing of the soul. When we do not have it, we feel all sort of sicknesses and anxieties. Our permanent home---heaven---is a permanent place of rest in God. It is not surprising when we do not live a quiet life that we begin to feel unhealthy, depressed, chaotic and then seek to fill it up with other things, only continuing the cycle.

"How sweet is rest after fatigue! How sweet will heaven be when our journey is ended."
—George Whitefield

When a quiet life is lived, we are witnesses for Christ. Living a life of doing the work God gives us to do, to the best of our abilities is a tool of evangelizing in our communities and to those that enter our homes. It is an offering to God, a sweet aroma to Him. He is pleased with His simple, quiet and faithful servants.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. " Matthew 5:8

"To an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you..." 
1 Peter 1:4

"...let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. "1 Peter 3:3-4

Prayer: "Lord, show me your truth in a quiet life. Lead me along your paths and show me your ways to peace. Guard my heart and mind against clutter that will seek to lead me astray and give a heart of discernment. Make my hearts ambition be your ambitions. Amen."




"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."  

~2 Corinthians 11:3


Simplicity brings freedom, and Christ came to set the captives free. (Luke 4:18)  Like Eve, so often we are led astray with subtleties and false ideas. Busyness, money, chasing after possessions and the minds eye focused on our achievements, all of these lead away from the simplicity of resting in Christ. The more we are entangled with all of these activities and goal achieving, the easier it is for them to take us captive. The heart cannot serve both Christ and possessions. "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Matthew 6:24

Simplicity begins in the heart. It is a way of life that lives in the heart, unrelated to ones possessions. It is a peace in Christ and all He gives that produces satisfaction. From that inner peace stems a lesser attachment to possessions. No longer do the possessions fill us, but God does. An idolatrous attachment to wealth in the heart crowds out Christ. Christ and spiritual riches should be sought in our heart first; God's plan for our wealth, and the other tasks we do here should take a less important place in our lives. Sometimes, we may be deceived by subtleties, as simple as a thought process, or an attitude of the heart. If we serve God with the heart attitude that it is solely so He will materially bless us that is not truly serving God. One way to examine this in ourselves is to ask ourselves what our conversations with God are like. Are they focused mainly on asking Him to materially bless us? Or mainly on getting to know Him more? Certainly we pray to Him for financial needs, but do we also pray for spiritual riches?

How many have a plan for earthly wealth, yet wander aimlessly in the direction of spiritual things? God desires to see more motivation and zeal than we put into growing wealth into growing in relationship with Him. 

"Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven." Proverbs 23:4-5

If God blesses us with wealth, the simplicity of heart wants to bless others and not hoard it all for ourselves, knowing it came from the good hand of God. Simplicity is knowing that God brings material wealth, it all belongs to Him. Knowing we do not take our possessions to heaven, we are able to not become slaves to wealth.

"So obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him.  For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills.  It is a land of wheat and barley; of grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates; of olive oil and honey. It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking. It is a land where iron is as common as stone, and copper is abundant in the hills.  When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you."
“But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today.  For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful!  Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. ~Deuteronomy 8:6-16

So often the thrill of living in a bountiful time causes the human heart to forget God. In this forgetfulness and enjoying the "plenty" we walk further from God, and in the direction of worshiping the wealth. We also begin to worship ourselves and the lie of our own self sufficiency. This is why Jesus spoke so strongly of wealth and the entrapment it can bring.

"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." Matthew 19:24

Jesus calls to us to live a peaceful and free life, unhindered by slavery to possessions and wealth. He wants our treasure to be Him and eternal life with Him, but our hearts must be fixed on Him.  
"Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be." Matthew 6:21

Jesus gave us teachings on His financial freedom; yet they are conveniently skipped over. His financial freedom does not always mean storing up wealth, but rather being free from the vain pursuit of it, to pursue the peace that is found in pursuing and seeking Him. And in seeking God, we find satisfaction in whatever He provides.

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

"As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.  "

Prayer: "Lord, keep my heart free from the entanglements of focusing on wealth. Show my heart your peace and rest to seek your riches. There is no wisdom in only focusing on earthly things. Show me your wisdom and your way to the simplicity of a heart that abides in you." Amen.

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Leonardo Da Vinci




Sunday, June 1, 2014

Strangers and Pilgrims

"...but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." Hebrews 11:13

In our modern day, the vision of living as a stranger and pilgrim is dimming. Living the life God calls us to as a foreigner here on earth is living the life of faith. This means every day our eyes are fixed on the "substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1  If our faith is built on genuine substance, that which stands forever in our lives, that which is unchanging in life, then our feet are firmly planted on the path toward heaven. 

As we stand on our foundation of faith, on our foundation of heavenly things, a foundation built upon the worlds longings, habits, and morals becomes one that cannot coexist. This is like putting on a "Christian seatbelt" of sorts. This is akin to going on a wild roller coaster ride, with it's twists, dips and turns and expecting that with our "christian seatbelt" we will not feel the drops in our stomach, the fright and the temporary thrill. The ride still affected us. So many are dabbling while putting on their seatbelt, because it feels good, it feels easier to participate in that which lacks foundation. The seatbelt of their faith exists, but the substance and foundation of faith has not been established. There is no discernment to weed out that which has no substance, no belonging in the life of faith.

Faith is knowing that while we plant our feet in earth, we may not see the end fruits of our labors here. Yet we know heaven is our place of rest, and that is where we know God makes all things complete. The life of faith is focused on what is unseen by our eyes here, yet known by our hearts of faith. Our heart is at rest as a stranger and pilgrim here on earth, and our eyes are focused on heavenly things.

"It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith- for he was like a foreigner, living in a tent." Hebrews 11:8-9

The earth is the land where we live by faith, where we are like a foreigner. Heaven is the land we receive as our inheritance if we walk the life of faith and obedience. Yet living as a foreigner means our set of values and our following of God will different than the culture around us.  A stranger and foreigner does not blend in, if they do, they have changed themselves and altered their values to conform to those around them. Like Abraham, we are to follow God on earth, not always knowing where we are going and not always seeing the end result in this "earthly" lifetime. We are like Abraham, living in a tent with great faith.

"Abraham did this because he was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God." Hebrews 11:10

Abraham is our example. To live like him is to look forward with confidence and joy to our heavenly city and to walk the steps of faith on our path each day, knowing this city (heaven) we cannot see with our eyes exists and was created by God.

"All these faithful ones died without receiving what God had promised them, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed the promises of God. They agreed that they were no more than foreigners and nomads here on earth. And obviously people who talk like that are looking forward to a country they can call there own. If hey had meant the country they came from, they would have found a way to go back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a heavenly city for them." Hebrews 11:13-16

Daily we are to see from a distance and welcome the promises of God in our hearts. We are to look forward to our heavenly city, while walking this dusty road as a pilgrim. Heaven is the reward for this earthly pilgrimage, where the dust is washed off of weary feet, where we are cleansed and enter into God's great rest. The promise He had planned for us before the world was formed.

"How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets.  By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death." Hebrews 11: 32-35

"It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be treated as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to share in the oppression of God's people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was far better to suffer for the sake of the Messiah than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the great reward that God would give him. It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt. He was not afraid of the king. Moses kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible." Hebrews 11: 24-27 

Like Moses, do we share in being a stranger and pilgrim, one of God's chosen ones, one who may experience ridicule and oppression? Taking our eyes off the fleeting pleasures of sin, and looking forward to God's great reward. We are to keep right on going as Moses did, with our eyes fixed on God and heaven. This is God's path for his strangers and nomads. If the eyes are fixed on pleasures and ease, the heart cannot be focused on heavenly rewards. If Moses had been focused on his riches and power as the son of Pharaohs daughter, his eyes would not have been fixed on the one who is invisible.

God makes our choice clear to us. Will you be one who partakes in the pleasures and riches of Egypt, or one who is a pilgrim who lives for my heavenly promises? The choice is ours, and one must be chosen, two paths cannot be walked at the same time. Hearts and minds will become confused, we will become lukewarm and double minded.

"All of these people we have mentioned received God's approval because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had far better things in mind for us that would also benefit them, for they can't receive the prize at the end of the race until we finish the race." Hebrews 11:39-40

The prize at the end of the race is God, Christ, heavenly pure things. Our hearts must be willing to faithfully walk the path to holiness, our eyes fixed on the end of the race. The life of a faithful Christian is like a nomad, wandering a place that is not our permanent home, yet knowing the permanent land exists and we will reach it with the substance of our faith. And the substance of our faith will be shown in the way we live our lives. The way we look as strangers and pilgrims.

"So you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek Him." Hebrews 11:6

Let us use worldly things as wise pilgrims do their staves and other necessaries convenient for their journey. So long as they help us forward in our way, let us make use of them, and accordingly esteem them. But if they become troublesome hindrances and cumbersome burdens, let us leave them behind us, or cast them away.
—George Downame

Let none of us be content to tarry down below in the marshland of the poor poverty-stricken religion of this present day—but let us climb the high mountains where the sun of God's grace is shining brightest—and stand there enjoying communion with Him, leaving the world.
—Charles Spurgeon

Prayer: "Lord, show me how to live as your pilgrim. As one called out by you to walk the life of faith, and to live it and build a foundation upon it. Give me discernment and your holy wisdom to not live double minded and to conform to the modern and new ways each time they present themselves. Give me joy in being a stranger and pilgrim and show my heart your unspeakable rest that awaits. Make your rest and heavenly reward the focus of my heart. Amen."