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Entries in Dawn Wilson (58)

Thursday
Jul062017

Expand Your Attention Span for Spiritual Growth

Got attention span deficit? In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, Dawn encourages us to expand our attention span so we can grow in our journey with the Lord.

According to a Time magazine report (2014) quoting Chartbeat, a data analytics company, one in three visitors to a webpage spends less than 15 seconds reading an article they land on.

A 2016 article in The New York Times noted a survey of Canadian media consumption by Microsoft that concluded the average attention span had fallen to only eight seconds.

(Apparently goldfish have an attention span of 9 seconds, but I'm not sure how you'd prove that's true.)

Human brains wander and are “in the moment” for just over half of our waking hours according to a study from Harvard University. The rest of the time we “zone out.”

I've watched the controversy over the rise of fidget spinners for children with poor attention spans; but attention isn't just a kids' issue.

I've joked that I have a shorter attention span than fruit flies—sort of like this common fly hopping on and off my husband's cell phone! But it's really not a laughing matter.

Part of the problem: we flit between television, radio, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, our iPods and iPads and email. We’re distracted and incredibly busy and can’t seem to concentrate on one thing for long.

This problem affects Christians when it comes to spiritual disciplines and lifestyle.

  • We find time to surf the Internet, but fail to swim in the cleansing streams of our Bibles.
  • We eagerly chat on social media, but seldom get in deep conversations with our Heavenly Father.
  • We can quote lines from favorite flicks, but somehow can’t memorize scripture.
  • We spend hours looking for bargains in the mall, but miss seeing the desperate homeless woman outside.

As I write this, I am deeply convicted.

I am caught up in the busyness of modern society, the craziness of the constant media pull, and the emptiness of life when I forget God.

I need a major adjustment in my attention span, my use of time and the priorities I embrace. Do you?

I'm going to leave it to those much wiser to solve the brain/attention issue, but here are 5 ways I think we can expand our shrinking attention span to encourage spiritual growth.

1. Be Intentional in Seeking God.

Intentionality requires us to slow down and think so we can act wisely. In this crazy world, to come apart before we fall apart.

Redeeming or making the best use of time, as Paul encouraged, isn’t always about cramming more into our lives.

I like what Joan Webb, author of The Intentional Woman, says about this. “Speeding through life is not a productive way to redeem the time,” she says. “A better way to redeem life’s opportunities is to slow down, relax, and enjoy myself, others and God.”

Especially God.

Many Christians believe (see The Westminster Shorter Catechism, question #1) our chief purpose for existence is to enjoy God and glorify Him forever. We need to be intentional and seek Him.

It won’t just “happen” like an instant message flitting across your cell phone.

2. Meditate on Scripture.

Meditation is like mental training to improve our focus. It’s what sociologists call “mindfulness.”

“God designed us with the capacity to pause and ponder,” David Mathis wrote. “He means for us to not just hear Him, but to reflect on what He says.”

As a Christian discipline, meditation isn’t emptying the mind—as modern non-Christian teachers suggest—but rather filling the mind with real biblical truth and then “chewing” on it for a while. It is allowing the Word of God to “dwell in you richly.”

I have found meditation connected to prayer, Bible study and memorization. They all help one another.

3. Incorporate Exercise into your Day.

I’ve heard some people say “bodily exercise profits little,” quoting scripture, but a better translation of 1 Timothy 4:8 is “bodily training is of some value….” We don’t want to ignore our body’s need for exercise. And God designed us for a body-mind connection.

A study from the University of Illinois actually found physical activity can increase cognitive control and attention span. So why not get creative and use exercise time to the glory of God?

  • Prayer walk around your neighborhood.
  • Walk on a beach and hand out tracts.
  • Memorize a scripture while exercising.

4. Stay Hydrated!

We forget how much of our body is made up of water. Even mild dehydration, one study found, can impact a person’s ability to concentrate for long.

In her super-intentional book, 40 Days to Healthy Living, RN Danna Demetre says, "If you wait to drink water until you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated," and one of the symptoms of dehydration, she says, is "poor concentration."

As you drink in the Living Water of the Word, don’t forget pure H20 can refresh your body so you can focus on what God has to say. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times.

3. Ask Questions that Encourage Study.

Jesus was a master at asking questions. One author suggests Jesus asked 307 questions in the scriptures. He definitely wanted to get his disciples and seekers thinking.

He asked questions like, “Why are you afraid?”—“Where is your faith?”—and “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you?”

Asking questions will help you stay engaged and apply what you are learning. It might even lead to a life-changing research project!

4. Incorporate Christian Music.

A study at Stanford University’s School of Medicine found listening to classical music engages the areas of the brain that affect attention and memory. Music certainly can play a part in a Christian’s focus on the Lord.

Choose music that is both inspirational and truth-packed to get your attention and creative juices flowing. I recommend the CD “Be Still: Piano Meditations” by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

(But Note: if you are like me, when you are deep in study you may want some simple symphonies in the background instead—I find myself singing words of well-known hymns, and my brain starts chasing other topics!)

5. Write to Focus.

Writing long-hand engages more mental processing according to researchers.

Whether you journal or simply make notes in book margins or underline passages, writing will help you focus your thoughts—even better than using a laptop (which can prove to be an easy distraction).

Which of these attention span expanders could help you today? Do you have other ideas to help you focus?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices TodayLOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphics adapted, courtesy of Pixabay.

Saturday
Jun172017

'I Will Be Your Father'

In this special UPLIFT for Father's Day, Dawn Wilson is joining with Claudia DeNure to remind us of God's special invitation to be our "Father."

I (Dawn) remember when my Daddy died. It was such a tough day, and to this day, I still have "unexpected tears" when something triggers a memory about him.

I know on Father's Day many have tough memories as well as sweet ones.

I don't know what your memories are, but I once heard a preacher say, "We often respond to the Lord in the same way we responded (or respond) to our earthly fathers."

I don't know if that's true for everyone, but it certainly was for me.

My Daddy loved me, but I never sensed we communicated that love heart to heart (though I was supposedly a "Daddy's girl.") I knew Daddy expected me to "do good" and "not get in trouble." But I also knew his correction when I did mess up was fair and swift. Yet sometimes he let me off the hook. I never deserved the "mercy" I received.

And that's exactly how I viewed God for so many years. That has both good and bad results. Good, because I've always seen God as fair and merciful; bad because there were times I thought God might be letting me off the hook for my sin, and also because I struggled with feeling truly connected in prayer. I knew God loved me, but I somehow wanted to hear it in a more tangible way.

As I matured in faith after finally trusting in what Christ did for me (and not my own efforts), I one day read 1 John 3:1, and it transformed my heart:

"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are."

That verse was the "more tangible" I was looking for. I believed that scripture. And I built my worldview of God's Fatherhood on it.

I set on a course to discover God's love as a Father.

I started praying to Him in a different way. Instead of "God," I started addressing Him as "Father God." I felt that reflected my awe of Him as the sovereign God and Lord of the universe, and yet acknowledged the special, new relationship the Bible says we have together.

I understand Jesus was the first Jewish rabbi to call God "Father" directly; and it was also Jesus who first taught His disciples to pray, "Our Father in heaven" (Matthew 6:9). Jesus was inviting His followers of all time into a deep, personal relationship with the God He knew so intimately.

What a tremendous privilege the believer has to pray to the Father, in Christ! And what an introduction Jesus gave us to the most unfathomable love in existence (John 15:9-17).

The Father's love for His own is not like human love. It is lavish and unconditional.

Our love story began with the love of the Father for His "only begotten" Son, Jesus (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:9-11).

And then this matchless Love of God enabled us to "be called children of God" (John 1:12-13). It is this love that quickens and changes us and empowers the conquering of sin (Ephesians 2:4-5; Galatians 2:20; Romans 8:37-39).

It is a mistake to believe all humans are automatically "children of God." Only those the Father "births" through the Gospel, adopts and transforms through the Holy Spirit can truly call Him "Abba." * (John 1:12-13; 3:6; 1 Peter 1:3, 23; Romans 8:14-17, 22-23; Galatians 4:4-6; Ephesians 1:4-6).

Yet "Father's Day" may truly trouble some. Their memories of their daddies are too grim, too hurtful. But there truly is no comparison between them and our "Abba" in heaven.

God the Father is not like some distant, dirty or deadbeat earthly dads.

Father God is not an absent father, an abusive father, or an always-failing-us father.

He is good—an absolutely "good, good Father," as Chris Tomlin's song reminds us so beautifully:

I've heard a thousand stories of what they think you're like,
But I've heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night;
And you tell me that you're pleased
And that I'm never alone.
You're a good, good father—
It's who you are, it's who you are, it's who you are;
And I'm loved by you—
It's who I am, it's who I am, it's who I am....

As I was thinking about this recently, I was struck by the powerful testimony of my friend, Claudia DeNure, and I want her to share it with you.

"My mother married three times," Claudia says. "My dad had been a German prisoner of war in the Second World War, and when he returned home, he was a very different man. He divorced my mother. 

"After a second failed marriage to an alcoholic musician, she married the man with whom I went through my teen years calling my step-father. This, too, was a difficult marriage which included many heated and accusatory arguments, and frequently ended with, 'I'm going to divorce you' from both parties. 

"I had just returned from a church camp experience, as I recall, and hearing the screaming above—from the basement room I been given as a bedroom—I prayed, 'Lord, I don't want a life like that. Please help me.' 

"Then I heard quite clearly in my mind, 'If you will be my daughter, I will be your Father." That was the moment I turned my life over to Jesus Christ, and I've never looked back. 

"He became the Father I never had; the best Father a girl—and now a woman—could ever have asked for."

I know that is the case for so many today. Just as on Mother's Day, there are many who hurt on the special day we set aside to honor our dads.

Some, like me, simply hurt because their daddies have passed away and we're no longer to put our arms around their necks and whisper, "Daddy, I love you."

In those times, oh, how we need Father God.

Claudia understood the CONDITION as well as the COMFORT involved in this Fatherhood:

"IF you will be my daughter, I WILL be your Father."

God desires to (and He will) "Father" us, but we must be willing to be His sons and daughters. We must be willing to trust the Gospel, surrender to His control and obey Him.

Do you know the Father today? Do you understand His lavish love for you? If not, here is how to become a "child of God" with the Lord of the universe as your Father in heaven.

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

*Note: "Abba" is closely related to the word for "Daddy" in Aramaic.

THANK YOU for your testimony and the use of your photos, Claudia DeNure.

Thursday
May252017

14 Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day

If we're not careful, Memorial Day can devolve into BBQs and ball games. It's so much more. In this Memorial Day UPGRADE, Dawn Wilson encourages us to look once again at the purpose for this day, and become more creative and intentional in celebrating it.

"Yes, I know... Memorial Day isn't about thanking soldiers who serve today," I told my friend.

"But I like to include them into my  'thankful mix' while not forgetting the original purpose of this super-special day."

I hope that's your heart too.

Here are 14 ways to celebrate Memorial Day this year.

1. Educate the Kids.

Explain to children and grandchildren what Memorial Day means—why it was created.

The first Memorial Day was celebrated in 1868. A Union general declared May 30 as a special day to decorate graves of fallen Civil War soliders, and after the first World War, Memorial Day became a national holiday to honor Americans fighting in ANY war for America. President Richard Nixon declared the last Monday in May a federal holiday in 1971.

Don't confuse Veteran's Day (November) with Memorial Day. On Veteran's Day we honor all who have served in the military.

You might also teach children about the American flag, or say the pledge of allegiance together—explaining what the words mean.

2. Take a Moment to Remember.

The National Moment of Remembrance was established by Congress to facilitate Americans pausing as an act of national unity at exactly 3 pm (local time) on Memorial Day to remember the fallen. Some people pause for one minute.

Take part of that time to praise the Lord we still live in a free country.

Take time to pray for our nation (Psalm 33:12; Daniel 2:21; 1 Timothy 2:1-2).

3. Decorate Your Home with Flags.

It's wonderful to see the American flag flying across America any day, but especially on Memorial Day.

Fly a flag half-staff from dawn until noon, local time. (You might also want to fly the POW/MIA flag, if you have one)

4. Decorate a Veteran's Grave.

Go to a cemetery and use a flag and/or flowers to decorate the grave of a fallen soldier.

A special "thank you" bouquet can be sponsored through the Memorial Day Foundation.

5. Attend a Ceremony.

Check the newspaper for a patriotic local ceremony if you can't visit Washington, DC, for the BIG celebration.

Your local American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, or even your closest military base may have a special program.

6. Attend a Parade or Fireworks.

Although it's a time of remembrance, Memorial Day is also a joyous holiday. We are a free people because there are people determined to protect those freedoms.

Go to a parade or fireworks and celebrate!

7. Be Creative.

Make a patriotic-themed craft—a wreath, dessert, or even a cap or t-shirt.

Have fun being "Americans" together!

8. Use Music.

Listen to a national Memorial Day concert on television or attend a a local one.

For example: For those local to San Diego, on May 28, the San Diego Master Chorale, under the direction of Dr. John Russell, will present a Memorial Day Concert with familiar patriotic favorites and stirring spiritual arrangements. It's held at the San Diego Central Library auditorium, 330 Park Ave., San Diego. Get there by 2pm or earlier. Tickets are free and parking is free on the streets (or for a fee in the underground structure).

Or, create your own concert. Play inspirational patriotic music, or sing patriotic songs together.

If your child plays a trumpet, let him or her play "Taps" and then pray for the families of those who have died for our country.

9. Visit a Memorial.

See if there is a military memorial site in your town. Consider how you might honor those who have died from your own home town.

But also, put it on your bucket list to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetary.

10. Buy a Poppy

Groups like the American Legion Auxiliary and Veterans of Foreign Wars take donations for poppies.

Ever wonder why the poppy? John McCrae wrote the World War I poem "In Flanders Fields," and it includes the line, "In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row."

"Buddy Poppies" have been assembled by disabled or needy veterans since 1924. Your donation helps maintain state and national rehabilitation/service programs for vets.

11. Aid the widow, widower or children of the fallen.

Are their families of fallen veterans at your church? In your community? Are their needs being me? Are you sure?

Does your church have a regular means to check-up on and encourage these families?

Pray for them today!

12. Thank Someone in the Military Now.

Although Memorial Day is for those who have died, and military personnel you meet on the street or at airports haven't died for our country, they have taken time out of their lives to protect our country and freedom.

They deserve our gratitude. It's always OK to shake their hand and say, "Thank you!"

13. Visit a Hospital.

Take flowers, cookies or good reading material to a local veteran's hospital! This would be a great experience for elementary children.

14. Write a Note.

Take your verbal thank you" one step further. Make homemade cards for military personnel you know, or for the families of the fallen. Or purchase them at Vistaprint.

OperationGratitude.com will give you information about writing soldiers letters (or even sending a "care package" to someone in the military who is currently deployed).

The key word on Memorial Day is "Memorial."

Let's never take it for granted.

Remember. Celebrate. Be thankful.

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

All photos, courtesy of Pixabay.

Thank you card, available at Vistaprint. 

Note: I am not connected to any of the links I shared (except I have a friend in the San Diego Master Chorale). No compensation given for any of these suggestions.

Thursday
Apr202017

Our Stuff vs. God's 'Stuff'

As I entered Pam Farrel's two-day post about downsizing (Part 1; Part 2), I (Dawn) searched my own heart.

"Lord," I said, "Pam wrote, 'You don't own your things; your things own you.' I get that. Does my stuff have me?

"And beyond that, Lord, does YOUR stuff have me?"

It was a strange question that filled my heart that morning, but one I had to answer honestly.

I had already been dealing with the idolatry of things. All the possessions in my home that consumed my time and attention.

The things I bought that were frivilous. Trinkets.

Things that cluttered my home and inhabited my heart.

The truth is, when our lives are cluttered with the things of this world, we may be crowding out the things of God.

So we start weeding out, downsizing, simplifying our homes, our closets, our storage spaces. And that's all good.

It's good to simplify our lives too. It creates freedom. Breathing room.

But I've noticed, when we clear spaces in our homes and heart, something else usually rushes in to fill that space.

I got rid of one "collection" in my home only to replace it with another one. It still wasn't the best use of my financial flow. And soon after I started dealing with my idolatry of food (gluttony), I found another idolatry rushed into the vacuum (pride of self-accomplishment).

The Lord doesn't just want things to be deleted from our lives; He wants to fill our lives with something better.

He wants to fill us with Himself.

I started asking the Lord, "What can I add to my life that will bring you more glory?"

I wanted my "stuff" to be used for God's glory and to bless others as Pam suggested. And I wanted the Lord to fill my home and heart with more of Himself too. I wanted to be a vessel of honor, for His use.

It's not about despising our "stuff"—despising the things of the world. It's about finding our highest delight in the Creator of the world and in His Word, and bearing good fruit for Him (Psalm 1:1-3).

Focusing on God's "stuff" means focusing on the truth of His Word and responding to it in humility, obedience, and God-glorifying service.

That may mean changing our thoughts, especially any lies we believe. We muat be careful how we think, because our lives are shaped by the thoughts of our "heart" (Proverbs 4:23). We must fix our thoughts on those things that will build our lives and glorify the Lord (Philippians 4:8).  We must be renewed in the spirit of our mind (Ephesians 4:23).

But most of all, it's following the replacement principle, the dynamic the Bible describes as "put off... put on."

Without the biblical replacement principle—found in Ephesians 4:22-24 and Philippians 3:12-14; 4:8—we may be simply replacing one bad habit with another bad habit, or one idolatry with another idolatry.

We must put off (get rid of) those things that fill our lives that do not please the Lord. We must confess our sins as the Holy Spirit illuminates our heart reveals them to us (Ephesians 1:15-18; 1 John 1:9). Our sins begin in our hearts and work their way outward, so we need to start with the heart.

It's not enough to recognize the fruit of sin; we need to get to the root and yank it out.

For example, overeating was not my root of sin; the gluttony was a result of idolatry in my heart—seeking satisfaction in food rather than the Lord. THAT was the root.

We are renewed in our spirit (sanctified) when we begin to appropriate and apply the Word (John 17:17) and REPLACE our sinful desires, thoughts and attitudes with biblical desires, thoughts and attitudes (1 Timothy 4:7; Romans 6:11-14, 16-19). We allow the Word to train us!

It's not usually an overnight process, but a transformation that happens over time as we yield to the Spirit of God (James 1:21-25).

In that transformation, we put off (eliminate) some things (our sinful stuff), and put on (embrace) other things (God's holy and honorable "stuff").

For example:

But the point is, once we identify our "stuff," we discover God's "stuff"—His absolute truth about our sin—and we embrace it and do whatever we can to make the truth of His Word an active part of our lives (reading, memorization, responding in obedience, etc.). In other words, we surrender our lives to His control.

So... as I am deleting the frivilous and foolishly time-consuming things in my home that clutter and rob me of freedom or joy, I am also asking the Lord to help me delete the things that do not please Him, and REPLACE them with things that delight His heart.

Is this your desire too? Where will you begin to deal with YOUR "stuff"? Where does seeking God's "stuff" begin?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Thursday
Mar232017

What Does 'Walking in the Light' Look Like?

In this longer Spiritual Life UPGRADE, Dawn Wilson asks us to consider our "walk" with the Lord. Are we truly walking in the light? What does that even look like?

It's a well-know metaphor in Christian circles: We're to "walk in the light."

But it's often misunderstood.

It doesn't just mean to live openly and honestly before people. It doesn't even mean to behave well.

To walk in the light biblically has a far deeper and more significant meaning.

One of my favorite Bible passages is Ephesians 5:8:

"for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light."

Maybe it's because my name is "Dawn," but I've always been fascinated with light. This scripture awakened me to the whole concept of "light in the Lord."

Paul was admonishing Christians to live in light of the light God has provided us in the example of Jesus and in the truth of the Word of God.

This concept began in the Old Testament when saints were encouraged to walk in "the light of the Lord" (Isaiah 2:5).

Isaiah predicted that people who "walked in darkness" would see a "great light" (9:2); and in due time, Jesus came down from the "Father of Lights" (James 1:17). Those who trusted in Christ would find light for life (Isaiah 50:10).

The Father's nature is light. There is no darkness or evil in Him at all. And Jesus, His Son, is the pure Light of the World (John 8:12). He is the provider of the Father's light to us.

Jesus is the "true light, which gives light to everyone," John said (John 1:9). In Him, we don't need to walk in darkness.

So what does it mean to "walk in the light"?

Essentially, our "walk" is our lifestyle—our mindset, patterns of behavior and the choices we make. But that mindset and behavior must be holy and aligned with scripture, and our choices must be biblically wise in order for us to say we are truly "walking in the light."

In our identification with our Savior, we are holy—set apart for the Lord's use. As we walk with the Lord and learn to trust and obey Him, we grow and mature spiritually (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:22-24). We become more like Jesus (1 Peter 1:15-16; 2 Timothy 1:9-10; 1Thessalonians 4:3).

It's a one-time transformation when God changes our hearts at salvation, but there is also a "being made holy" (sanctification) process. When we walk, we're going somewhere. We're making progress on the lighted path.

At one point in my life, I thought walking in the light was too difficult.

I rationalized that I live in a morally dark world, and choices for "light" were just too hard. So I coasted spiritually.

But with growth in Christ and through His grace and power, I've learned more about what "shining" for the Lord looks like. Just as Jesus is the Light of the World, we are called out of darkness and each one of us is commanded to be a light in our "crooked and twisted" world (1 Peter 2:9; Matthew 5:14-16). God does not want us to "abide" (or dwell) in darkness any longer (John 12:46).

So HOW are we to walk as children of light?

1. We're to REMEMBER we were rescued from darkness.

We can't forget what it's like to live in darkness.

  • Living in darkness is lying to ourselves and lying about the reality of eternity—it's not acknowledging and practicing the truth (1 John 1:6).
  • People who live in darkness don't want to come to the light because it exposes their sin (John 3:19-20).
  • They reinterpret good and evil (Isaiah 5:20) because they are spiritually blind (2 Corinthians 4:4).
  • People who choose to walk on the dark path take pleasure in doing wrong, enjoying their twisted ways of evil (Proverbs 2:13-14).

Walking in darkness is a lifestyle that promises (and sometimes gives) us so much, but it's all empty in the end.

In contrast, the Christian's walk should reflect a glorious truth: the Father has qualified us, in Christ, "to share the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness..." (Colossians 1:9-14).

To walk in the light begins with a heart transformation as we trust in what Christ did for us when we were lost in darkness, separated from God.

2. We're to BE HOLY: "blameless and innocent."

Being "righteous" has gone out of style in much of our culture, but to walk in the light is to grow in holiness. We relinquish our sin and let God's holy light shine through us (Matthew 5:16). A holy testimony is important!

We must "lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light" behaving properly (Romans 13:11-14; Ephesians 5:7-14). We are wrestling against the spiritual wickedness, the darkness of this world (Ephesians 6:12). We're to dress ourselves for battle in the light of Christ, and get moving for Him.

God's Word is the light we need for daily choices (Psalm 119:105; John 1:4-5). We're to embrace and hold tight to scriptural truth so the world can see Jesus' light in us (Phiippians 2:14-16).

We can't straddle the fence between holiness and wickedness (1 Thessalonians 5:5).

We "walk by the Spirit." The Spirit of God enables us to walk in the light (2 Corinthians 4:6). As we walk by the Spirit, we do not "gratify the desires of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16, 25; Ezekiel 36:26-27).

3. We're to keep our MISSION FOCUS.

Paul quoted Isaiah 49:6b in Acts 13:47, reminding believers that God wants to use us to "bring salvation to the ends of the earth." Jesus gave us a mission, and we don't want sin to diminish our testimony and effectiveness (Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 24:16; 1 Peter 3:16).

We also need to pray the Lord will lift the blindness of people, because without Christ, they cannot "see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:3-6). They may even be rebelling against the light (Job 24:13).

It is our Father alone who can shine life-transforming light into hearts.

Knowing that, we can pray He will open the eyes of our friends and loved ones.

3. We're to live for GOD'S GLORY.

We were chosen for a reason: to "proclaim the excellencies" of the Lord who called us "into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).

We're to do all things for His glory alone—to live "for the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:12; Matthew 5:16; 1 Corinthians 10:31).

4. We're to be CAREFUL about our RELATIONSHIPS.

Be careful about your "walking" companions. They may lead you astray.

It's hard to be light-bearers when our closest pals are those who walk in darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 John 1:6-7).

This doesn't mean we can't ever associate with those in darkness; but we must be alert and careful in those interactions. Light and darkness are opposites.

5. We're to BE FUTURE-FOCUSED: to live in the light of Jesus' return.

We're not in darkness, but we still must be "alert and sober," remembering the Lord will return and what we're going to do for Him, we need to do now (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).

We must remember this world is not our home. We're heading into eternity, and we will all appear before the Lord to give an account of ourselves (Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

Walking in the Light involves total commitment to the Lord and the Word, not just for righteous living today, but to prepare us to live with the Father of Lights for eternity.

Are you walking in the light today? Which of these five points might need some work so you can keep in step with the Spirit of God?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Pexels at Pixabay.