The Remedy

“Ascetic regulations (practice of severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence) are of no real value in restraining indulgence of the flesh. The only remedy for sinful passions is found in the believers’ experience of union with Christ.” Curtis Vaughan speaking on Colossians 3

For a while I lived under a “microscope” type of theology. I felt like God had me under a microscope and if I messed up then judgement was coming! So, here I was trying to fake good behavior and wearing myself out trying to be perfectly pleasing to God. I also felt like I had to do more, sacrifice more, and run myself ragged in order to serve the Lord. No pleasure to be had. Just work, work, work!! I needed to be a shining example of a true Christian!!

I really started to feel more like a Pharisee. This showed I had not yet learned about or truly experienced my union with Christ.

The Spirit testified to me through many bible studies that my union with Christ means that the judgment of God is no longer reserved for me. Christ already took the judgment on the cross in my place. Once I fully believed and accepted that as truth then my eyes were opened to a whole new way of living for God, and a whole new appreciation for Christ!

Since I am forever free of God’s judgment then I no longer have to keep myself under a microscope. Yes, I want to live in a way that is pleasing to the Lord but I can’t do that through my own will and I don’t have to! No more wearing myself out trying to act a certain way or “do more” in an attempt to prove I am serving the Lord. I am free from trying to obey regulations set up either by God or myself!

“What? This is crazy! So I can just go about my way being disobedient?” No, sir! No, ma’am! This is not freedom to sin but freedom from sin! It is submitting your heart to God to be changed into a new person! It is taking off the old and putting on the new! It is going from just having a changed behavior to having a changed character.

With the fear of judgment gone and knowing the amount of love Christ showed me on the cross I am able to open my heart up to be changed by the Spirit! Oh that mighty, mighty Spirit! He changes my heart so that I am not out here just trying to obey regulations but am being changed into a new person! With a new character! A new heart!

So, now, the way I behave is not fake but just a part of who I am. My behavior flows naturally from a changed heart. When the Spirit opens my eyes to something that needs to be changed in me I have learned that the quicker I come into agreement with that and the deeper I immerse my self into God’s word then the quicker that change can begin! I no longer put myself down or feel like a failure when the Spirit calls me out on something, but instead, I am grateful for it, agree it needs to change, and welcome the Spirit to do His work in my heart!

That is what takes away trying to obey religious practices and creates obedience through a relationship with the One who makes obedience to His commands possible. It is through my union with Christ and His salvation work on the cross that I am changed. Christ is my Sabbath everyday. He is my rest. His burden is easy and His yoke is light. I no longer have to dwell on all the ways I fail but can be lifted up in all the ways He is changing me.

We come to the cross not making promises of doing better and being better. We come to the cross believing in His promise that He will forever abide in us and fully complete the work He has begun in us.

Thank You, God, for this plan that sets me free!

Are you ready for freedom, friends? Lean into the current of His loving word and let Him take you there. Enjoy the ride to contentment my friend! It is a most amazing journey.

As always, if you have questions or need prayer I am here for you!

May His face shine upon you today!

Refined by the fire

I am in the middle of many uncertainties. What makes it even worse is I have been here before and never thought I would face this type of uncertainty again.

This really feeds into my blame game routine. At the heart of it all, I blame myself. I am responsible for my consequences and my stinking thinking makes everything consequences from a mistake I must have made.

If I was to put myself in the story of Job then I would be the friend that was asking him what he had done to deserve such a fate. Except I say it to myself.

I can also compare myself to the diciples who once asked Jesus why the blind man was blind. Was it a sin he did or maybe a sin of his parents? Except I start pointing blame wherever I can for the circumstances.

I know the truth, and my Spirit is willing to hear it. But this flesh has gotten the better of me lately and has left me depressed and maybe a fit of panic here and there. Bitter roots are forming and resentment is real.

I know God will walk me through everything and this fire I am going through is here to refine me and not consume me.

But my flesh says “seriously? You know this is your fault, right? Your obedience was quite lacking and now you want to cry through the consequences. Do better and this wouldnt happen.”

These thoughts leave me feeling so far from God. Like He is disappointed in me. The enemy sure knows how to twist truth into lies. Like a roaring lion he sits and waits for a weak spot to show itself and he digs in.

These are the times that I am thankful for the Spirit guiding me to study His word so consistently for the last few years. Not only do I know where to go to renew my faith but I have His truth written on the tablet of my heart. So when the flesh starts spewing its lies that still, small voice comforts me. He pulls me out and sets me on the solid rock. The bible studies I was so obedient in following has led to an arsenal of truth to fire back at the flaming arrows the enemy has directed at me.

I am not alone. I am not unloved. Even if noone on this earth loved me…He does and what more would I need? Except even then, He gives me more. He gave me a whole church family that shows me love and would come into this battle with me in prayer, no questons asked. That leaves me thankful for that still, small voice that instructed me to get back in church consistently a few years ago as well.

So, if today you are also in a sea of uncertainty let me fill you with this truth. God is good. He wants only what is good for you. If He is burning away what wasnt from Him right now then rejoice. He will restore you to His will and plan. Hold on to that hope. This, too, shall pass and if you let Him refine you then it will not consume you.

I am reminded of David who wanted to build a temple for God. God told him a temple would be built but it would be for his son to build it. Since David couldnt build the temple he decided to stock all that was needed to build it so his son would have all he needed when it was his time to build it.

I feel God telling me, “I see you want My ways and you want to change and grow your faith. That is my Son’s job. He has sent His Spirit to change, grow, and guide you. The only thing you are to do is stock your arsenal with the tools and weapons that are needed. He will rebuild you.”

Yes, a weak spot has been exposed. Yes, the enemy took notice and dug in on it. But God knew it was there all along. He will use that enemy to refine me. I will not be consumed by him because I am already consumed by Him. Where I am weak, He is strong and His power is about to be made very evident in my life. Amen!

Put your armor on soldier. Build up your weapons. Stock that arsenal. He will do the rest.

To those who are weary:

Obedience and submission. Two words from the bible in which people have problems. They sound harsh to some ears, but I have to let you in on something; No matter how harsh it sounds you are already being obedient and submitting to something. Think about it. What moral code drives you? Is it what feels good to you? Well, that could change on a whim. Is it what pleases others? That is going to change quite often as well. Is it just simply doing good things or “living your truth?” How do you know what is good or what is true? The world? Your inner thoughts or vibrations? Guess what…yep…all those are fluid and change as the wind blows. BUT you are obedient and submit your life to that ever changing belief. How tired you must be. How burdened and wore out you must be from trying to figure out the right path that may change tomorrow, next month, or next year. That seems pretty harsh to me. Just look at the world around you. Is there peace amongst the choas or are you being thrown around the ship with no anchor?

Now, go back and read what obedience and submission looks like in the bible. Read how it frees you. Read how it strengthens you. Read how submitting your life to Jesus as your Savior, repenting your sins, and obeying His way leads you to peace in the choas and anchored securely to a never changing guide for your life and a glorious eternity ahead of you.

Do you want to submit to the ever changing laws of the world that is ready to cancel you when you fall short of it? Or do you want to submit to the never changing law of God and receive grace, mercy, and forgiveness when you fall short of it?

The choice is yours. Free will is a God given right when it comes to your salvation. His arms are open to you now.

“Come home, come home;
you who are weary come home;
earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
calling, O sinner, come home!”-Will L. Thompson

Romans 12:2
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Proverbs 14:12
There a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.

1 John 2:17
The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Prayer for loving others

Lord,
My good and gracious Father. Thank You for giving me new mercies everyday. I ask You to help me love people. Even the ones that wear me down like sandpaper. You have placed them in my life to sand away all the spots in me that are still rough and smoothing me out to be more like You. I thank You for them. Lord, help me to not grumble about them. Where do I have room to grumble? I am the sandpaper in others lives as well. There are parts of me that grate the nerves of others. My progress is far from perfected and we are all in different phases of our journey with You. Help me to walk in obedience to Your command of loving You and Your people. Help me to be the samaritan on this journey instead of the ones that pass by others in need of Your love. Help me to pray and be kind instead of venting and grumbling to others because I know that kind of disobedience hinders their walk with You as well. Please Lord, let me not even hold it inside to form a bitter root. Change my heart and cleanse my thoughts so only Your love flows through. And when others bicker about me, Lord, help me to decide ahead of time to not be offended. My value is Yours. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Thank You for walking me through this and being so quick to pick me up when I stumble. Thank You for Your forgiveness. I love You. In Christ name, Amen.

Blessings of obedience

An obedient life is a blessed life. Those are words that, once upon a time, I never would have said. I was a rebel without a cause. Truly. No cause. If you told me to do something, even if I was just about to do it anyway, then I would not do it just because you told me to. In fact, I would then try all the other ways of doing it just to prove you wrong even though your way was the way I was going to go to in the beginning. The enemy sure knew how to train me to be disobedient to God. As I studied bible verses this morning in Psalm 119:45-47, it made me thankful for the obedience God has taught me over the past few years. These verses spell out our blessings of obedience.

“And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed. And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.”

When we study and follow God’s word then we begin to feel the freedom from being a slave to sin, or we “walk at liberty”. We have all heard the phrase “oh, what a tangled web we weave when we first begin to lie and deceive.” We can weave ourselves into a tangled mess when sin becomes our choice in handling things. One sin requires another and another until we are so buried we see no way out. But that first step of obedience to God immediately starts to dissolve the web and brings in the light to show us our way to freedom. When we choose God’s way instead of sin’s way then we walk with liberty, free from the bondage sin puts us under.

We will be able to speak our testimonies unashamed. This can seem very daunting at first. “I don’t want to offend anyone.” Or “People will think I am a Jesus freak or super religious and not want me around.” But when you speak the truth in God’s way it won’t always hit like a hammer over the head but as a bandage for the heart. Truth is truth. Some may feel conviction and be offended. Some may decide they don’t want you around. I know this because I was once one of them. There were many people that would say things that would offend me. I believed in Jesus and that was good enough so leave me alone. But I certainly was not living for Jesus and many Christians could see that. While I was offended at the time, little did I know the seeds were being planted. Seeds that help lead me to where I am today. The more obedient we become in sharing the truth then we will no longer be ashamed in doing so. We begin to see the importance of speaking truth no matter who we are around, no matter what questions asked, and no matter the situation we are in. This does not mean we must enter every argument we are invited to, or to even argue at all. Simply speak the truth. The other person can either take it or leave it but I can guarantee you will leave a seed behind.

We will delight in His commandments. Obedience may seem dreadful. It may seem impossible. Being perfect is very much impossible. That is why we, as Christians, are so thankful for God’s grace and mercies that are new everyday. But when you fall in love with the Lord…when you have that special one on one moment with Our Savior and you truly fall in love with the Lord then you delight in pleasing Him. Think about when you first fall in love with someone. How much does it delight you to do something that makes them happy? And the best part about pleasing our Father is His way makes our way straighter. His way puts us in position for a light yoke. His way leads all bad to turn to good. The things that please Him actually benefit our lives! You are free to completley fall in love with Him. To completely surrender to that love because His love will never leave you.

Life isn’t easy. Even the Christian way isn’t always a bed of roses. But when you handle those thorns with the weapon of obedience secure in your heart then the blessings will abound compared to the alternative. Don’t you want to be free today? Take that first step. May God’s love and mercy be felt by you today. In Christ name, Amen