A Believers Guide to Awakening YOUR faith
M. J. Elliott
Copyright © 2017 M.J. Elliott/ Love the Saints Ministries.
All Rights Reserved.
Have you ever wondered about growing closer to God?
A While ago, I put together a sermon series that taught about the simple things in life and how they can help awaken your heart, at the time I never really thought about using what I learned as I put that series together in a small eBook like this. That’s the beauty of God though. He loves to use the “Simple Things” in life to help us understand the vastness of his great love and of the growth we can have in our own walks with God. There are big things and small thing that we can do each day to help remind us of what our faith is all about and embrace the opportunity to do these things more in our daily lives, the possibilities are endless.
This little eBook started off as a small project to I would work on in my free time and has blossomed into what it is today. My hope in sharing this project “Freely” is that is will give you, the reader, a little glimpse into what God can do in your life through the “Simple Things” that we often forget about or pay little attention too as we go about our daily routines. When I began to think about a project Love the Saints Ministries could offer to our readers freely, my thoughts were taken back to the original project and then to the sermon series I mentioned earlier. Our hope with this project is to give the reader a small guide they can look back on to help them when life just simply gets in the way of awakening your faith.
Now, I’m not suggesting that all it will take to awaken your faith is a little God in your life, it’s not that simple. There are certain things that we must do in order to find ourselves growing closer to God. There are always going to be struggles and temptations that we have to overcome. What I am suggesting is that even though your life may contain heartache and suffering, YOU have the ability to work through the pains of this life and embrace a joyful heart. Life has given each of us so much opportunity to embrace a little more joy and the things we experience, big and small, all play a role in forming that desire deep within the confines of our hearts. If personal experience has taught me anything, it is that our experiences do matter and that they can lead us down the path of righteousness or a path of destruction.
So let’s embrace the simple things and start preparing ourselves for an awakening, an awakening of the heart. The journey won’t be as easy as you might think but through Christ and each other we can accomplish the task that has been set before us, to find ways we, as individuals and as believers in the way , the truth and the life, can grow in our walk with God. There are many different ways a person can do this and as your read the pages of this book you may find some you would like to try and others that you may think are kind of ridiculous. In the end, the important thing is that something begins to awaken, something that will change your life forever.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 NIV
Life is full of its ups and downs; God gives us a formula to live by through the scriptures as a way of guiding us towards the patch that we have been called to take. This formula gives each of us a basic guideline to helping us grow closer to God. While each of us is given a specific formula for our life all of them come down to simply this, we must ask God to teach us his ways, then we must seek God with all that we are, and then we must knock on the doors he places before us. With each door that opens, we grow closer to awakening our faith. What matters is how we go about completing that formula.
There is not one specific way that is right or wrong as long as that formula includes all three. As you continue to read the next few pages of this eBook, it is our hope that we will give you ways to combine all three in some form or another. One of the very first things I learned was to Stop and Pray for God to open the doors he has prepared for us to walk through in this life. This lesson plays a very important role in identifying which formula will work best for you. So, as we will talk about in the next section, make it your choice to go to God in prayer everyday as you seek his guidance in identifying which formula will work best with who you are.
The Ambulance Effect
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV
As a child growing up my mother had this little thing she would do every time she heard a siren, hence the name: The Ambulance Effect. She would stop everything she was doing and say a simple prayer, “Lord be with them and keep them in your love and give them understanding. Amen.” Many times us kids would ask why and she’d simply answer, “Because Jesus would.” That answer is the root of everything I hold dear in my life, many who know me know one of my ministry sayings is “Love them Crazy, Just like Jesus.” My mother taught me this and while she never really found out what became of all those that she prayed for, it was important that she took the time to stop and do something for someone else, regardless of knowing the outcome.
As an adult, I have continued to follow her lead. I have adapted my prayers a little but still, there is something that clicks in my heart when I embrace an opportunity to help someone else in need, whether it be through these simple prayers or something bigger. So next time you see someone struggling embrace the ambulance effect. It will do more than change your heart, it will change the hearts of others as well when they see the example you set with whatever assistance you offer those around you. One of the ways I like to keep track of those moments where embracing the ambulance effect really makes a difference is by journaling the events that lead to them.
The Journaling Phenomenon
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4 ESV
A journal is something that almost everyone has taken upon themselves to write as they have grown up. How long the commitment was may not have been the best but the idea of writing down your thoughts and experiences is something that many have wondered about, and were most likely forced to do in school. Journaling your thoughts on a daily basis can give you something to refer to when difficult times come, as sort of a guide of its own. It can show you where you’ve been and give you a clearer picture of what God is trying to reveal to you in your time with.
There have been many times others have been impacted by an entry in their personal journal that was scribbled down several months or even years’ back. God has a great way of taking our experiences from the past and bringing back to the forefront of our mind. Having a Journal to refer back to when these times come can be very encouraging. Today, I still look back on several of my blog posts or “journal entries” and learn something new. The Bible is the same way. Some of my best ideas come from when I journal about a scripture that has really impacted my life. The result of writing that passage down, along with a few of my thoughts, has birthed most of what I write.
The Memory Game
I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11ESV
Have you ever play The Memory Game? In this game the players are given some cards and then asked to flip one over and then search for its match. In order to win the game you have to apply to memory where each card is as you turn it over. Memorizing Scripture throughout your walk with Jesus can be a lot like the game of memory. Just as a child we has to identify with each shape on the front of the cards to match them up, we can identify with certain scriptures to help us grow in our faith. Growing up if we went to church, sometimes it felt like the bible was being stuffed down our throat, but as we become adults those scriptures become part of our life.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of one of those passages I learned as a child. Memorizing scripture can give you hope and understanding. There are scriptures about practically everything one could imagine and they can be used as a powerful tool to help us awaken our faith. As we grow in our faith there will be times when a certain passage will speak to us in several different ways. They can bring encouragement and conviction, understanding and revelation, peace and comfort and even that long awaited breakthrough you’ve been searching for. I challenge you to embrace an opportunity to search for a few scripture references that ‘match’ up with what you’re going through in your life today. Once you have found a few make it a point to memorize them and you will be amazed. Many of those passages have become prayers and I often recite them when struggles come to help me pass over the horizon.
[* Pondering Prayer- The Methods *]
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. Psalm 119:15 ESV
Without prayer, we gain nothing, really. It is the very foundation of our faith and without it we have no way of communicating with God. Sometimes Prayer can be a very difficult thing to add into your daily routine, but it is very important to your faith. Prayer, as has already been stated, is the foundation of all that we, as believers, claim in our walk with God. Many have struggled with this because they don’t really understand that there is more to prayer then simply saying those few special words. There are many different methods someone can use in their daily life to make prayer a priority. Of course, there will be times when we need to go to our “war room’ and focus on just speaking to the Lord in prayer, but there will also be times when we need to be willing to listen and wait for God to speak to us.
If you have ever participated in a “24 hours of prayer’ initiative, you know there is more than just a few methods to pray. What these initiatives provide is a safe and secluded place for others to come and pray for an hour or two. The facilitator usually creates specific blocks of times so that any number of people can fill the 24 hours allotted. Once someone signed up for a certain block of time and shows up, they typically find between 10-20 different booths that incorporate a different prayer method, thus giving the participant 10-20 different methods to pray. I could create a completely different eBook covering many of these methods (maybe I will one day), but one of the most valuable to me has always been memorizing a few of the prayers in the bible or that have been written over the course of history to help you along your journey to awaken your faith.
[* Pondering Prayer- The Arsenal *]
But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. Jude 1:20-21 ESV
We have shared about the importance of memorizing scripture, as well as the importance of praying itself but let’s focus on Memorizing prayers for a moment or two. Embracing this can be a very daunting task, but once you have an arsenal of prayers within your mind to pray over yourself when times get rough, it will all be worth it. There are many different prayers in the scriptures as well as those that have been written throughout history, which can be useful in our journey to awakening our faith. Many of the historical figures and biblical teachers that have taken the time to memorize certain prayers really bring encouragement, understanding and peace when it has been needed.
Paul the Apostle spends a great deal of time writing down ‘prayers for the people’ that were very meaningful to those in biblical times that can be meaningful to us today. Jesus himself also spoke several prayers that can help us overcome the struggles we face today. One of my favorite historical figures that teach about prayer is E.M. Bounds. He spent most of his live developing a working knowledge of how prayers can change the world around you and I still read his stuff today. When you find yourself in a trying situation, you can think of some of these prayers as your arsenal as well, in time you will be creating your own arsenal of prayers to help you in your journey too. Don’t let the world around you keep you from building an arsenal that will help awaken your faith. Those prayers can often lead you to some monumental revelations from God, then take it a step further and add a devotional or two to your arsenal as well. The more prepared you are for battle, the better you will feel in the midst of struggle.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. John 15:4 ESV
There is a lot of Devotional out there for people to take a look at. Many take a bit of time of a commitment to read a portion of theses each day as part of their day spiritual growth, but it’s not too hard to do, if you’re up for it.. These books come in all different shapes and sizes. Adding a devotional or two each day can be very beneficial in helping us awaken our faith. It doesn’t have to be a long one and devotional books are usually very reasonably priced and can offer guidance to many of those who read them. There are also different ministries that offer daily devotionals on their websites, these can usually be obtained by simply subscribing to website updates and are normally free.
Finding the best devotional book, website or other avenue is not the easiest thing to do, but if we take the time to do so and really search for the right one, it can do wonders for your spiritual growth.
Each of us grow closer to God in different ways, so it’s important to remember what captures your attention and not just go off of someone else’s suggestions alone. Some of us may connect better with a book and others may connect more with a website that provides daily devotional reading. When you are searching for those one or two different devotionals keep in mind that you are your own person and that what may work for one person may not give you what you need. It is always best to pray for God to give you guidance when searching for the devotional that fits YOU. Once you find that devotional that’s right for you the next step is to find a time each day to sit down and read it. It can be something you add to your first meal or even just before you head off to bed for the night. If it is something you do relatively around the same time every day, then that might be a good place to start.
Encounter the Trigger
Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. 1 Corinthians 11:2 ESV
Have you ever heard the saying “the best way to create a new habit is to simply attach it to something you already do.” Everyone has at least somewhat of a daily routine that we go through on a daily basis. We all have to wake up and eat, well, at least one meal a day. We all have things that we have to do each day in order to live and we all know what that routine is. For argument sake, we all drink at least a few glasses of water a day and we could easily say to ourselves, “I’m going to say a little prayer each time a drink a full glass of water.” or “I’m going to give God thanks every time I hit a green light,” Right? Eventually after a lot of struggle and reminders it will become almost second nature. The reason why is because we are conditioning ourselves to make that change. As time goes on all that conditioning we’ve been doing will pay off and in a moment’s notice, a trigger like that can lead to an amazing moment or two with God. For me I’ve always taken a moment or two to say a little prayer or two when I’m driving to the store or to work, most of the time this puts me in a better mood and helps bring me peace throughout the day.
A prayer while you’re driving may not work for you and that’s fine, the point is to find something that you do on a regular basis and add a prayer or a few moments of time that you dedicate to listening and speaking with God. This is why that trigger is a good place to start important, each time you encounter that trigger in your daily routine, you will be reminded “oh wait, I need to read my daily scripture. I can’t forget that.” or “Yes, I didn’t get stopped by the red light, thank God.” Okay, so maybe you will word it a bit differently but it really does work, I know from experience. These triggers help you in many ways, but they aren’t the only thing that will give you a little extra motivation, Gathering with others can do something similar, if you’re committed to getting involved in one, going to a gathering of fellow believers can also be a trigger for you, too.
Embrace the Gathering
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:25 NLT
We are given this promise in the scriptures “where two or three are gathering in my name, there i am among them.”(Matthew 18:20) Overcoming the struggles of this world becomes a lot easier when you have someone to lean on. We were not meant to be alone in this dark world. There are times when we may feel as if we are but those are great opportunities to embrace gathering with others of similar spiritual background. Finding a church or bible study to call your church home is a big step and you’re not going to find the perfect one on the first go around. As we journey in faith with God there will be opportunities to gather with others believers.
Sometimes these opportunities can help take our faith to the next level because they fill a deep longing that we have to be with others. I know what you’re saying, “I don’t need anyone.” The reality is that deep down we all need some type of social interaction. Whether you’re an Introvert, an Extrovert, or something in between, there are always those times when fear takes hold and the need for support from others is highlighted in your heart. Finding a corporate gathering of others with the same passions and desires you have can be a great booster to your faith. It also can provide accountability when certain aspects of your live keep you from drawing near to God. Remember that you have something special to offer the world and that a great place to begin opening yourself up is in a gathering of likeminded people just like you.
Today’s Special is… YOU!!!
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2nd Corinthians 4:1 ESV
Have you ever gone to a shop or a restaurant and found the words “Today’s Special is” posted out there for everyone to see. The daily specials are everywhere and people love checking them out. The business markets the product and we all eat it up like candy on a holiday. Usually the thing that is offered is something different than what is normally available at the shop or restaurant. It is offered at the peak of business and we just all just go for it, whether we buy the special or not we are in the shop or the restaurant looking at everything else they offer. It’s really a mind boggling thing, isn’t it? Offering a special can me more than just a simple sign hung in a window though. Did you know that you could be Today’s special for God? There is a passage in 2 Corinthians chapter 3 that talks about how we are considered “Gods Letter of Accommodation”. Through the example we set for others we become today’s Special for God. We have gifts and talents that have been given to us and using those gifts is part of making us today, or tomorrow’s, special.
There are many things we can do, or are already doing, that show others the wondrous things God can do. It doesn’t really have to be something huge out as eye popping as some of the signs I’ve seen, but every little step towards serving someone other than yourself can impact your faith in an amazing way. God was given each of us our own unique special to offer the world today, whether you’re taking out the trash for a neighbor or buying’s someone else groceries for the week. Even a simple smile can be one of the biggest embraces of a servant’s heart. So, why not take some time to think about what you could do as Today’s Special for God’s glory. Give yourself the opportunity to be Today’s Special and God will do great things through you.
The Giving Ultimatum
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17 KNJV
If you have ever been given an ultimatum by someone in authority (ie, if this doesn’t happen, here is what you’re going to face) then you know it isn’t the easiest thing to process. When it’s given your mind swirls around thinking and analyzing every possible outcome and it can be exhausting on our part. This unexpected ultimatum has stopped us right in our very own track and we are left to wonder about the endless possibilities. It can be very similar when we give something unique to someone else, something that makes them stop in their tracks and wonder. Giving to someone unexpectedly can plant a seed that eventually breaks down the walls that keep others from awakening our faith. It also has repercussions on us as well, they are good ones, but it still happens. There is a story about a man who was once a very selfish and egotistical person. This man, we’ll call Mr. Borne (to take a note from the movie), really wasn’t all that bad, but his reactive personality gave everyone the wrong impression. Mr. Borne was actually a very depressed man, he’d lost his job, his family and it seemed as if his life was over. He was truly down on his luck and felt like he had nothing to offer the world around him. One day a young boy, we’ll call Jason, decided to take out Mr. Bourne’s trash for him and then to water the dying plants on Mr. Bourne’s porch.
At first glance, Mr. Bourne was furious and began to react the way he normally would. But the little boy said something that changed all that, “I just wanted to let you know you don’t have to do everything in your own.” This sparked something in Mr. Bourne and it forever changed the way he reacted to those around him. Now, taking out the trash isn’t that amazing of a talent but the feeling Mr. Bourne received because of it made all the difference in his life. He choose to make a final stand against the ails of his heart and brought joy back into His life. When we give of our time and efforts, it creates a warm embrace that brings us closer to understanding the love God has for those around us. Maybe it is something as simple as taking out the trash or something that challenges the minds of even the best and the brightest, but when you embrace the giving ultimatum your whole perspective on life can and will begin to change. Looking for God in your life is the first step towards embracing your future.
[* Where’s Waldo- God Style *]
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 ESV
As a child, some of my favorite books to get from the library were from the Where’s Waldo collection. It was always somewhat of an adventure looking through each of the pages trying to find Waldo. Most of the time it would take forever to find him, but the funny thing is that once I did find him I would always say something like “I can’t believe he was there, I must have glanced at that spot at least 1000 times.” Those books hold great memories for me and I will always remember feeling like I’ve overcome some amazing feat of discovery when I found Waldo each time. Looking for God can feel the same way. Finding Waldo was great but finding God at work in the world around me is something special and brings even greater feelings of accomplishment.
God is at work all around us and when we see sightings of his handiwork the feeling can be overwhelming. It may seem as though God Sightings are hidden in plain sight more that not but the warmth of finding God along your journey is worth the time it takes to find Him. Most of the time we simply overlook the beauty of what God has placed around us. If we are continually overlooking the obvious, we are not really looking at the whole picture are we? Just like it usually took looking at the bigger picture to find Waldo, we can also look at the bigger picture of the world around us to discover where God is in our lives. It can be in the depiction of a sunset, in the laugh of a small infant, or in an act of forgiveness, but God is there. Once you open your eyes and begin looking for God in all that is around you, your faith will begin to soar higher that you could ever imagine.
Washing the Tide away
For I am about to do something new, See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:19 NLT
I must confess, relates more to those of us that live closer to the water, but there is something here for everyone. The book of John gives quite a detailed account of Jesus and the washing of the feet of his followers and while a lot of people see the basic meaning of this passage. There is something more we often overlook the concept forgiveness. There have been many days when I’ve watched the tides come in at the ocean that is down the street from my house. The sound of the waves has always brought instant peace to my wondering mind. Now, if you have ever watched the tides come in you know that the waves usually cover the old mucky sand with a solid picture of untouched sand. It’s simply beautiful to see all that old sand turn into something new. This is kind of what forgiveness is, when we seek it, our slate is basically wiped clean and we start fresh with a new beginning.
We have to be cautious though because just like the sand is still vulnerable to the touch, offering forgiveness to someone else leaves us vulnerable to the touch. I honestly believe that Jesus meant the washing of his follower’s feet in the same way. I believe that he wanted to give them a glimpse at what forgiveness could mean. I also believe that forgiveness brings new life. God has something beautiful in store for each of us; all we must do to embrace it is to seek to wash the tides of our past away and to embrace what is anew. We all have mucky old sand in our lives that can be washed away by God’s forgiving heart. Whether you believe it or not, your slate can be wiped clean. Whatever is keeping you from seeking forgiveness today, let go of it and let Jesus come wash your feet clean. Don’t let mucky sand take over your life, embrace washing the tide away today.
Garbage In, Garbage Out
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV
There is a story about a husband and wife who used to take time each night to spend with just each other. Most nights the couple would eat at the dinner table together and they would even go on romantic walks together. Often they would even jump in the car and just drive around together. They led a very simple life. When they wanted to watch the TV, they broke out a wholesome Disney or PG film and enjoyed it. As time went on though, they got internet in their home, the husband began working more and their simple, yet enjoyable life, began to change. Now they would sit for hours watching TV or Netflix, even while eating a meal. The husband’s work took up a lot of time, so the romantic walks and spontaneous drives would almost disappear. One day the young couple realized they were going to be parents and knew that things needed to change. As they began to prepare for this life altering gift, they realized that a lot of what they were doing now was distracting them from each other. In the end, they changed some things.
While they still have internet and TV, they know when enough is enough. As they have grown together in their life, they have learned to take the garbage out of their daily routine and replace that time with focusing on their family and on God. We too sometimes get distracted by what is around us. The key for us is to take it out of our lives before it gets to that point. Distractions are everywhere, TV shows, newspapers, internet temptations, or personal encounters; but when we replace those things with the good, computer filters, Christian radio station, family time and other things, we are able to overcome the trash (distractions). We begin to find better ways to grow in love with God and encourage others through our example. In the end we are able to overcome the limits we place on ourselves when we keep the garbage in. Sometimes, taking the opportunity to just get rid of some of the less important things in life can help us all see just where we need to let a little more light in.
A Fasting Engagement
So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty. Ezra 8:23 ESV
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “I’ve heard all the stories about fasting, and yes, I know who Gandhi was, what more is there to understand.” Well, I am here to tell you that there is so much more to fasting then simply skipping a few meals. Fasting can be something as simple as taking the food you would normally eat out and putting in the foods of the spirit or it can be more. It’s all a matter of perspective. There have been times when I’ve fasted from the internet or facebook and even TV. It all depends on what it keeping you from that relationship you desire to have with your God. It may be that you’re struggling with using harsh words or getting distracted by material possessions. It could even be the opposite sex, there are things all around us that can keep us from awakening our faith and setting time aside to fast from some of those things can help you bring your focus back on God.
Taking time to devote yourself to avoiding those things is helpful and keeps you from making bad decisions. A fast in the mindset of our faith can be defined as giving up something that means a lot to you so that you can spend more time getting to know the creator who imagined you. I know from my perspective, fasting from TV and technology gave me my wife, my kids, my passions and so much more. My wife and I chose to take a few days to fast while seeking God’s guidance about our relationship and God showed us that he had deemed us obedient and that he had purified us. He blessed our marriage and we are even more in love today than we were when we fasted for those few days. We sought His guidance when it came to having kids and I seek Him even today about what my passion are and should be. God longs to give us the desires of our heart (as psalm 27 says) and when we take the time to sacrifice something we enjoy day in and day out, we engage ourselves in what God is trying to do in our lives.
A Fasting Intent
Then Ezra left the Temple and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While Ezra was there, he did not eat or drink, because he was still sad about the unfaithfulness of the captives who had returned. Ezra 10:6 NCV
Fasting, while it can include several of the different methods like those mentioned above, also includes giving up food. I know I said I wouldn’t mention it, but it’s there and I’ll be brief. Biblical History highlights fasting from food in a number of places. Most notably, the example we are given through the temptation of Jesus. Scripture implies that Jesus was lead out into the desert to be tested by the evil one and that Jesus overcame. While we do not advocate that you go 40 days and 40 nights without food, it does present us with a great example. Fasting is more about seeking the spiritual food that God can give us. Previously, we were presented that fasting can help us grow closer to God by resisting the temptations of the world around us. Here, we would like to encourage you to take the next step in fasting from things you actually need to live. Food is very important to our survival and can easily become its own idol in our lives, if we are not careful to remember who gave us that food.
Many times when we are hurt or lonely going out with friends for a meal can help us cope with whatever is ailing us. What if instead of going out for a meal, we took that time with our friends to spend with God, learning about the spiritual food only He can provide. What if instead of heading out the nearest Taco Bell, Burger King or even Subway when we want something quick and easy, we take that time make the time give something quick and easy to God, a simple prayer of thanksgiving. It is amazing what God will do in our hearts when we surrender our material needs to Him. The spiritual food He gives is so much more nutritious that what we eat in fast food places today.
The Worship Factor
But a time is coming—and now is here—when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to be his worshipers. John 4:23 NET
Worship is defined as the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration with religious rites, according to the dictionary. Adding more aspects of worship to your life can be simple and very effective when striving to awaken your faith. Embracing an attitude of Worship (Ps. 29:1-2 ESV) is more than just singing a song, it is honoring God. If we are not making it a point to honor God with our lives, we are not giving Him what he deserves. In my home, we use music a lot. Many have said that music is a universal language and it has honestly helped us let go of a lot of things this world has thrown at us and it reminds us to simply enjoy having fun as a family. For you it may be something completely different, it may be a moment or two of silence or a prayer on the way to work in the morning.
There are others that embrace worship in the form of dance or art. Each of us has our own special way of connecting with God, finding it is the challenge we must overcome. There are many examples in scripture of those that embraced different types of worship to bring honor to their God. The Apostle John spends a great deal of his works speaking about ‘true worship’ and what it should entail. Paul was simply a tent maker. Peter did it by speaking of God’s blessings to anyone who would listen. Just remember to remind yourself that everyone is unique, so your worship factor is going to be unique to you, don’t be afraid to embrace it. Take some time to embrace a moment of silence, to read a good Christian devotional or novel, sing out a love song to Jesus. Find out for yourselves what the best way is for you to give of your heart back to God in honor of what he’s done for you, in doing so you will find rest.
Enter the Rest
Let us try as hard as we can to enter God’s rest so that no one will fail by following the example of those who refused to obey. Hebrews 4:11 NCV
There are so many times when we work so hard to get things done that we forget to take time to stop and rest. Avoiding this time for rest can cause so many things to go wrong in our lives, after all we are human beings, not super heroes. When we take the time to stop and rest, we find energy for the day ahead. When we take time to stop and rest we find renewal and strength, life and peace, faith and God. This is what it’s all about, resting in the knowledge that God is always with you regardless of what the world around you is telling you. This is something that has been very hard for someone like me, who can’t really sit still for too long, even when I’m a sleep, at least that what my wife says. Even though I don’t really like to sit still for very long, I try to make it a point to simply sit still every once in a while. There are times in the busyness of my life today that I long for a few moments of rest even. (Ps. 46:10 ESV). Believe me when I say this, it’s worth it in the end.
We need time away from all the busyness and requirements for life to just simply rest in the grace of our Lord. When we take the opportunity to do this we open the door for God to move in our lives. We give God a chance to teach us something amazing that will indeed help awaken our faith. Entering the rest also gives us the opportunity to focus on other things that are important to us, that the world really doesn’t care when we focus on our families, our friends, our other loved ones and on our own growth. All it cares about is the next big thing. Entering the rest can mean taking a few minutes to be away from everything or taking a weekend away to revive yourself. There is so much that can be attributed to resting in God I could write a whole other eBook on it, hmm I think I have an idea, well, maybe one day. For now though let’s keep writing this one.
Enter the Retreat
You’re my place of quiet retreat; I wait for you Word to renew me. Psalm 119:114 MSG
“There is place, a quiet place, in which we can find our refuge and strength. This place can be anywhere, anytime and any moment. That moment is up to you. When you find that place, that time or even that moment, give it to God and he will sustain you.” Powerful little quote isn’t it? This quote is a reminder that through God we can find revival, renewal and retreat. Finding these three words in our walk with God are very important to ensuring that we are growing with God. They are a vital part of opening the door for God to awaken our faith and we need them more that we know. Each of us have our own special ways of finding God in the midst of the crazy world around us. For some, it is entering the rest, for others it is embracing the worship factor, and yet for others, it is getting away for a few days to find themselves in God. Taking time to go on a spiritual retreat can be very uplifting. We all know that life can keep us from dedicating the time that is necessary to stay on top of our faith.
We all know that distractions are all around us and that they can easily take priority over renewing our faith and growing in God. What we are challenged with when it comes to retreating in God, is overcoming those things so that we can indeed enter into retreat with God. When we rest in God we are letting go and letting Him cover us with his everlasting love. When we retreat with God we are making it a priority to do things that will connect us with God. Your retreat may be a worship festival or a special men’s retreat. It could even be something like going to a cabin or hotel room in some other town close by. Whatever your heart desires and your pocket can afford is what’s best for you. Embracing the opportunity for retreat with God is part of our growth in Christ. There are times when we will need to take the first step and when we do, it can make all the difference in your life.
The Technological Advance
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14 NIV
We live in a world that is consumed by technology. It is like a virus that just won’t go away. For me letting go of a little technology was the first step in changing my way of life, and I have never been the same since. Don’t get me wrong, I love it and I love using it, but it sure can be a part of what hinders us from awakening our faith. However, it can also be used as a tool that will help us do the same. To be honest, there is an app for practically everything and it’s really kind of taking over. Every time we turn on our computers, our smartphones, our TV’s, there is something new that the world is just begging us to try. Instead of getting infected by the rage of technology, why don’t we take advantage of it. When I say there is an app for everything, there is an app for everything. You can download apps with daily scriptures, prayers, inspirational quotes and even daily devotionals. If email is more your thing, don’t worry, there is a way to use technology for that too. All you need to do is google daily devotional website and you’ll find what you’re looking for.
There are several technological advances you can make when your life is clouded by the technology around you as well, if you are struggling with a technology addiction, take a moment or two to put it aside and go outside. If you’re struggling with some website additions, there are ways that you can set up filters so that you don’t get to them as easily. If your social media networks are filling up with things that you don’t really appreciate, then block them from your home page. If TV is keeping you from spending time with your family or in the word, then take a break. Don’t ever feel like you have to go as the world wants you to go, you set the boundaries for your own life and if we don’t set boundaries when it comes to technology, it will indeed infect us and keep us from awakening our faith. Many of the things that we can do to help avoid letting technology take over our lives are so simple even a child can put them in. Just as Jesus was able to take the temptations of the world of his time and use them to proclaim the message to the many, we can take the temptations of today’s world to proclaim them to our own faith and, of course, that of those around us.
This simple eBook is only the beginning of this project. The purpose in creating it is simply to give you, the reader, somewhat of a guidebook of ways that you can use the simple things in life to bring your faith to the next level. Simple Things may seem simple on the surface but there is so much more to awakening your faith and growing in God than any of the little methods presented in this small eBook. Making time in your life to pursue you own “Simple Things” in life is a vital part of your growth in God.
It is not my intent that you take the twenty chapters of this book and only use them to help you grow in your faith. The intent in creating this resource is to open your eyes to the possibilities around you. Awakening your faith will be a long and tiring journey and some of the commitments you will have to make will not be easy, but in the end it will all be worth it. So, take this simple resource and use it as you see fit. It is offered freely for anyone who desires to awaken their Faith. Embrace the simple things in life and use them to honor God in all aspects of your life. This is only the first of more to come.
About The Author
Matthew (MJ Elliott) is someone who is passionate about reaching others for Christ with whatever God places upon his heart to write or speak about. He has served in ministry of some type for 13 years, whether as a volunteer or a minister of the Gospel. While never ordained, his ministry experiences give him a lot of understanding into what ministry is all about and how it has changed.
Matthew and Traci, his wife, have 3 children; Leyla, Caleb and their newborn daughter Hannah that bring inspiration and joy to their lives. His hope for this book is that it will encourage those who read it in a way that help them see what is often overlooked in the world around them. Just as he desires with God will do with their Ministry Website… Love the Saints Ministries… he desires God will speak to and encourage all who read its content.
Writing is both a passion and a hobby for Matt and he is very excited to see what God will do with this book and has really enjoyed putting it together. His prayer is that this book will minister to believers in love, equip them better for service in God’s Glory, and build the body of Christ in edification through the encouragement and grace he has been blessed with.
More from Matthew J. Elliott…
Matthew’s Collective/Published works include (Author), (Author), and .
He has two more works coming out soon… , and [+ Wrestling for your God Given Name+] (Co-Author) which are both scheduled to be released in the winter months of 2017. [+ Simple Things+] (Author) was released in January of 2017.
Follow him on any of the following social media networks to join him and Traci on their journey. , , , [+Google ++]
Other upcoming works will include,
The Petrus Journals, Author
Simple Things Part Two, Author
The Gospel Daily Devotional, Contributing Author
Cosmic: A Rise into Greatness, Co-Writer
Copyright © 2016 M.J. Elliott/ Love the Saints Ministries
All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
Scripture quotations marked (NCV) are taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://netbible.org All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NKJV) are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
This little eBook started off as a small project to I would work on in my free time and has blossomed into what it is today. My hope in sharing this project â€œFreelyâ€ is that is will give you, the reader, a little glimpse into what God can do in your life through the â€œSimple Thingsâ€ that we often forget about or pay little attention too as we go about our daily routines. When I began to think about a project Love the Saints Ministries could offer to our readers freely, my thoughts were taken back to the original project and then to the sermon series I mentioned earlier. Our hope with this project is to give the reader a small guide they can look back on to help them when life just simply gets in the way of Awakening your faith.