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Scared Carnal 3

13 Aug

You may have thought about the last post (and this is paraphrased from Andrew Murray),

“I would love to have sin taken away.  Who loves to have a hasty temper?  Who loves to have a proud disposition?  Who loves to have a worldly heart?  No one.  I go to Christ to take it away and he does not do it; we ask, “Why will he not do it?  I have prayed very earnestly.”  It is because you wanted Him to take away the ugly fruits while the poisonous root  was to stay in you.  You did not ask Him that the flesh should be nailed to His cross, and that you should henceforth give up self entirely to the power of His Spirit.”

We’re like children weeding who pull out the dandelion without dealing with the dandelion root.  We have done absolutely nothing to stop the growth of dandelions!

For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice] so that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fully met in us who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit [our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the Holy Spirit].  Romans 8:2-4

AMEN!

Scared Carnal 2

11 Aug

Gee, my title sounds more like a horror movie than a Bible devotional!

Tuesday, we spoke about reacting carnally to situations, and the implication of our fear of not changing from carnal responses to spiritual responses.  I think, too, that it is possible to respond carnally in some areas of our lives and spiritually in others.  Let’s get down to the bedrock of these too words:  Carnally means we’re responding in our flesh.  It’s all about us.  Spiritually means that we’re responding to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Our flesh has been crucified.

Andrew Murray sees three steps to the spiritual life:

“First, we must know that there is such a spiritual life to be lived by men on earth.  Nothing cuts the roots of the Christian life so much as unbelief. . . . then comes the second step; a man must see the shame and guilt of his having lived such a life.  Some people admit there is a spiritual life to live, and that they have not lived it, and they are sorry for themselves and pity themselves.  Alas, it has been our unfaithfulness, our unbelief, our disobedience, that has kept us from giving ourselves utterly to God. . . . finally, a man must take that step, a solemn but blessed step. . . a yielding up of ourselves to Him as never before.”

But offer and yield yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the dead to [perpetual] life, and your bodily members [and faculties] to God, presenting them as implements of righteousness.  Romans 6:13b

Jots & Tittles

17 Jul

He cares about the smallest detail.

I’ve been working on a paper this week that has to be written in APA format.  The paper itself isn’t hard to write, but all of the details of the APA format are driving me CRAZY.  No detail is too small for the APA Publication Manual to consider.  My shoulders are tense from searching (fruitlessly, I might add) to how to correctly write a reference for a mere mention of a website.  I was getting all crabby about the level of detail when it dawned on me that it is a good object lesson for the level of detail that our Father God cares about and plans for.  And I do love object lessons!

For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.  Matthew 5:18

For truly I tell you, until the sky and earth pass away and perish, not one smallest letter nor one little hook [identifying certain Hebrew letters] will pass from the Law until all things [it foreshadows] are accomplished. Matthew 5:18 Ampl.

Jesus, Not “I Dream of Jeannie”

9 Apr

The name, pansy, comes from the French word, pensee, which means "to think." The pansy symbolizes "You occupy my thoughts." Let God occupy YOUR thoughts.

Sometimes it seems that we follow after God for what He can give us and not for the relationship we are able to have with the Creator of the universe.  But it’s ALL about relationship.  Sometimes I wonder if these little posts can be taken as “Three Simple Steps to Get Rid of Your Fear.”  If it ever seems that way, please know that is not my intent.

God can and does work all things together for good for those who love Him.  But He is not a genie.  We don’t get to control things.  Our idea of what is good and His can sometimes be radically different or reached on quite a different timetable or through a different path than we may want.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not My ways.”
[This is] the LORD’s declaration.

“For as heaven is higher than earth,
so My ways are higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8,9

  • Thought is machashabah in Hebrew,  (Isn’t that a lovely word to say?) which means thought, plan, and purpose.
  • Way, or derek,  means journey, road, path, direction, and habit.
  • Higher means exalted and lofty.

God does things His own way in His own time.  So, my “One-Step Plan To Deal With Everything” is to continually develop your relationship with Christ.  Read His Word and respond to it.  Talk to Him intimately.  Listen.  And listen some more.

God: The Great Reverser

3 Apr

God created light and lit the darkness. God reverses.
Jesus gives us life instead of death. God reverses.
The Spirit guides us when we would wander aimlessly. God reverses.

What do you need reversed today? You’re probably chuckling, if you’re anything like me, and saying, “Where should I start?”  Here’s where I started:

  • Today I prayed that God would reverse the negativity that I’ve been experiencing at work and it’s already lifting and turning to a new excitement in my teaching.
  • I also prayed that God would reverse my tendency to internalize  my emotions when life hurts.  I need to cry and not bottle things up!  I’m going to continue to pray the same.  I feel no results, but know that God is working.
  • I prayed that God would reverse a terrible situation in the life of a loved one.  I see no results.  But faith is not based on what I can see.  I will just keep praying.

I’ve been teaching Beth Moore’s series on Esther in our church here in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and it’s been such an encouragement to me in so many ways.  Today, I studied the reversal that happened when the King granted Esther her petition and she and Mordecai drafted a new proclamation and sent it out all over the Kingdom.

First, Haman–using the King’s authority sent out an “order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.” Esther 3:13  The Jews reaction was four-fold:  In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.  Esther 4:3

We are under the same type of order:  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. (John 10:10a)  The thief can be thought of as Satan or false teachers.  Satan often whispers lies in our ears to steal from us.  The world often whispers lies to us.  False teachers on television can whisper lies to us.

The new edict gave the Jews the right to ” assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children, and to plunder the property of their enemies.” Esther 8:11

The situation was totally reversed.  For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor.  Esther 8:16  (The word “honor” means that they realized how precious this gift was.)  Jesus is the Great Reverser.  He says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10b

Ask for reversals in your life.  Find scriptures that apply to those reversals and memorize them.  God CAN REVERSE!

I AM the First and the Last

31 Mar

Look at HIS creativity!!

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God. Who is like Me? Let him [stand and] proclaim it, declare it, and set [his proofs] in order before Me, since I made and established the people of antiquity. [Who has announced from of old] the things that are coming? Then let them declare yet future things. Fear not, nor be afraid [in the coming violent upheavals]; have I not told it to you from of old and declared it? And you are My witnesses! Is there a God besides Me? There is no [other] Rock; I know not any.   Isaiah 44: 6-8 Amp.

“Fear not” means to dread not.  According to the Cambridge dictionary dread means extreme fear or anxiety about something that is going to happen or might happen.  “Nor be afraid” means to not have the unpleasant emotion or thought that you have when you are frightened or worried by something dangerous, painful or bad that is happening or might happen.  Literally, it means to be astounded or distracted with fear.

That’s a mouthful, but you get the idea.  Fear can be for the present, the future, or the possible future.  I love the phrase “in the coming upheavals.”  Are you experiencing upheavals?  Great changes?  Difficulty?  Troubles?  When you watch the news and see the chaos in the Middle East and Africa, are you distracted by fear? Then these verses are for you.  I know they’re for me.

The bottom line is that God knows. He knew all along.   He’s here.  He IS NOT SURPRISED.  He is the rock.  The only rock.  Our stronghold to take refuge in, and our solid foundation to build on.

God, King of Israel,
your Redeemer, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, says:
“I’m first, I’m last, and everything in between.
I’m the only God there is.
Who compares with me?
Speak up. See if you measure up.
From the beginning, who else has always announced what’s coming?
So what is coming next? Anybody want to venture a try?
Don’t be afraid, and don’t worry:  Haven’t I always kept you informed, told you what was going on?
You’re my eyewitnesses:  Have you ever come across a God, a real God, other than me?  There’s no Rock like me that I know of.”  Is. 44:6-8 Msg.

Disabling Fear: Fearing the Opinions of Others

20 Feb

The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.  Proverbs 29:25 MSG

The fear of man is a snare,
but the one who trusts in the LORD is protected.  Proverbs 29:25 HCSB

We are often faced with a choice:  Will I please God or (fill in the blank)?  I think we most often face this is little issues, as few of us have to decide whether to deny God or lose our lives.  Our issues are more like:  Will I laugh at the dirty joke so people don’t think I’m sanctimonious?  Will I gossip with my coworkers so they don’t think I’m holier-than-thou?  Will I evangelize a friend who may laugh at me or put me down?  Will I make a difficult choice as a parent?  The fear of man is a snare, bait, or a trap.  Bait leading to lack of trust in the Lord.

Trust, or batach, means to trust in, to have confidence in, be confident in, to be bold, and to be secure.   And be safe in that trust!  I love the meaning of the word for safe.  It means to be set in a high and inaccessible place where nothing can get to us.  I want to batach God today.

Whose Kingdom is It?

16 Feb

Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own;  for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body  1 Corinthians 6:19,20

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.  Romans 12:1

1 Corinthians 6:19,20 may be speaking of sexual sins, but using Romans 12:1 we can think of it in a much broader context:  all that our body says and does.

When my kingdom is at stake–my reputation, my quest for being loved–there is much to lose.  Out of fear I commit myself to self-protection.  Does this sound familiar?  When the things we value are threatened, we protect them.  In this case it is the same as protecting ourselves.  The alternative is to lose my kingdom and be a simple servant of the Most High God.  His kingdom is never threatened because he is all-powerful and he doesn’t need anything from us.  He calls us to love and worship him, but he doesn’t need it in the sense that we talk about needing love and affirmation. –Edward T. Welch, Running Scared

Last night Mike spoke a friend who has a degenerative, fatal disease.  His wife said, “You know, we never know how much time we’ll be given.   Jesus is still on the throne!!”  They are a great example to me of people who have presented their bodies as a living sacrifice.

Coming to Grips With Hope

9 Feb

Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.  John 16:20

Jesus often uses the word verily before making statements that are controversial or difficult to believe.  When He repeats verily it was an indication to take special note of the statement that follows.  (By the way, this would make an interesting Bible study–doing a concordance search of all the times Jesus used the word verily.)  The word verily is the word amen in Greek.

The word “amen” is a most remarkable word. It was transliterated directly from the Hebrew into the Greek of the New Testament, then into Latin and into English and many other languages, so that it is practically a universal word. It has been called the best known word in human speech. The word is directly related — in fact, almost identical — to the Hebrew word for “believe” (amam), or faithful. Thus, it came to mean “sure” or “truly”, an expression of absolute trust and confidence. (Online Bible Greek Lexicon)

In context of John 16:20, Jesus is speaking of His crucifixion and resurrection.  He knew that it would be difficult for his followers to believe that He would come back from the grave and so He called attention to the trueness of His statement by repeating the word verily. Truly, truly, he said.  So be it, so be it.  This is really going to happen!! Listen up!!!  As a result of His resurrection and ascension we have a living hope:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  1 Peter 1:3

This living hope is vigorous and alive and is restored as we meditate on the resurrection moment by moment in our lives.  Allowing hope to be extinguished goes against our nature as members of God’s family.  We must pray for hope to be sparked and renewed when it seems to flicker out.

Grappling With Hope

7 Feb

“Did I ask you for a son, my lord?” she said. “Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t raise my hopes’?”  2 Kings 4:28

The Shunnamite woman spoke these words to Elisha when the son God gave her died.  She’d been through much disappointment as a childless woman, and finally had given up hope of ever having a child–so much so that she hadn’t even wanted her hopes raised with a promise of a child from the prophet.  (v.16)

I’ve spoken with many people who’ve grappled with dashed hopes in their lives:  single people who want to be married, childless parents who want children, people with unsaved loved ones, diseased people.  All of them have something in common.  Their hopes were raised only to be dashed and they are afraid to allow themselves to hope again.  The Hebrew words for “Don’t raise my hopes” literally mean “Don’t deceive me.”  God cannot deceive, but I know how the Shunnamite woman feels.  She doesn’t think she can bear the pain of having her hopes dashed again.

“But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.  Psalm 39:7

BUT NOW:  There are times in life when all we can do is throw ourselves at the foot of the cross.  All we can do is bring our pain to Him.  All we can do is be honest with Him.  We’re afraid to let hope bloom again.   We’re not feeling much of anything because any feeling is too painful.

WHAT DO I LOOK FOR?  Consolation?  Change?  Communication?  A miracle?  Guidance?  Faith?  Or the ability to hope again?

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  Hebrews 10:23

Sweet is it that our hope should rest in him who is never shaken: should abide in him who never changeth; should bind us to him who can hold us fast to himself, who alone is the full contentment of the soul; should, as it were, enter into him; since in him is our being, who is love. E. B. Pusey, D.D., 1853