Control’s Control

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The One Who had all control laid it down to save our souls.

Scriptures of the Day:

John 11:48

“If we allow him to go on in this way, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away our sanctuary and our nation.”

John 12:10-11

“So the chief priests planned to kill Lazarus too, 11 for on account of him many of the Jewish people from Jerusalem were going away and believing in Jesus.”

John 12:27

“Now my soul is greatly distressed. And what should I say? ‘Father, deliver me from this hour’? No, but for this very reason I have come to this hour.”

A sinister character plots an innocent man’s demise while the dissonant tones from the background music come to a climax, piercing the palpable tension felt while we eagerly watch to see whether the righteous or the wicked will overcome . . .

This typical dramatic scenery has drawn many with the lure of the villian/hero storyline. Me, too.

Many years ago I am ashamed to admit that I was addicted to watching soap operas. True story. When I think back on it now, it is embarrassing. But there I was, watching the clock to make sure I did not miss an episode and clinging to every word to make sure that my favorite character was not duped by the newest control monger in town.

This addiction with soap operas ended when the LORD confronted me on it. “I will set no vile thing before my eyes . . . I will walk in my house with blameless heart . . . (Psalm 101). When I doubted whether or not God was really speaking I asked Him to shut off the television if He did not want me to watch it. And. The. Television. Shut. Off. Thinking it was just a coincidence, I turned the television back on and asked the LORD to confirm. And. The. Television. Shut. Off. Again.

So, that ended my fascination with soap operas and television, in general. But what was it that was so addicting about them in the first place?

Deep within we all want to know that the good guy wins. The thought of manipulative people wrecking people’s lives and plans by controlling their outcomes is unjust.

But even in the vilest plots of the enemy, the sovereignty of our God trumps it all. His will WILL be accomplished. No matter what. No one can control that outcome. It is done.

Even with this truth, man still strives to control in his folly. So how does control end up controlling us? The motivations for control are many. Here are just a few:

Fear. The Pharisees were motivated to kill Jesus because of fear – fear that they would lose control. What was it they were trying to control and why would they want to keep the living Truth from all people?

Power. They wanted to maintain the power they had and were blinded by their selfish pursuits and . . .

Jealousy. They did not want another leader to come and take away their audience. They were even willing to kill the man Jesus had just raised from the dead (Lazarus) to try and stop the fame of Christ from spreading. Wow. How did they become so blind?

We, too, can lose perspective and become crazed in our quest for control, if we are not careful. It might be a little matter, but it could become a big problem, causing dissension even in the body of Christ. In the end, we ultimately control nothing.

While God is always in control, the One Who had all control laid it down to save our souls. Jesus did not seek to control or to have deliverance from His suffering, but solely chose to glorify God, yielding His will to the Father. God was sovereignly in control at all times, even over the death over His own Son – and the Son trusted the Father in it all.

The fruit of our thoughts and actions reveals their source – is our behavior of God or Satan? Is the glory we seek our own or God’s? When we rid ourselves of fear and bitter envy and recognize that God is in control, we are free from control’s control.

 

Worshipful Wednesday: Integrity is all in the Mind

jesus-is-our-integrity

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Jesus is our integrity.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 101:1-3

1 “Of David. A psalm. I will sing of your love and justice; to you, LORD, I will sing praise. 2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life– when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart. 3 I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it. 4 The perverse of heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with what is evil. 5 Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate.”

Sometimes we can look over the landscape of life and wonder why so much evil is happening. When it happens in the church, we are often surprised. How do godly people acquiesce to wickedness? Very easily. Demonic influence and our flesh point us that direction naturally. But there is hope.

When we truly recognize the spiritual battle all around us, we see that the biggest battle will be that of truly living an authentic life of integrity. But integrity is not just our outward behavior.

Thoughts. The gate of our minds is the first place where we have decision after decision of what we will set our mind upon. Our thoughts matter – for they become our actions or, equally as pervasive – torment and distract us from a godly life – if they are not kept in line. But if our thoughts are brought under the authority of the Jesus filter, we can think clearly and recognize thought patterns that do not glorify Him.

Vain imaginations, prideful thoughts, thinking ill of others, dwelling on unrighteous deeds – all have to be brought underneath the LORDship of Jesus Christ. We are deceived if we believe that we can think a hateful thought about another person and be right in the eyes of God.

Action. But it is not enough just to refrain from evil. We are to be proactive and “Fix our thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8).

Content. What we feast our minds on is the largest impetus or detraction from integrity. God’s Word is living and active. Consistently meditating on His Word and applying it to our lives provides strength, conviction and enablement to walk in integrity.

Maintenance. Our thought life takes constant maintenance, we can never rest. But the beauty in feasting on God’s Word makes the maintenance of our minds a treasure trove and a delight. It does not have to become a daunting task of to dos where we think we could attain righteousness on our own. We just need to position ourselves to be soaking in God’s truth and ask Him to help us apply it to our lives.

Prayer. When we ask the God of this universe to help us live in accordance with His word, He honors a prayer like that. Even better – we can pray for those who appear to be against us. This is spiritual warfare that makes the enemy flee!

Humility. When we see the fruit of integrity in our lives, we cannot think it is us doing it. That sounds strange, huh? After all, we are seeking to do our part. But apart from God, there is nothing good in us. We are just yielding and letting Him live through us. Jesus is our integrity.

Fellowship. We truly were not created to be islands, isolated from others while we struggle and battle against resident and outward evil. We need to point one another to truth every single day, for the days are evil. This accountability is not to be judgmental, but caring enough to get up close and personal win sin is waging war and seeking to destroy people’s lives.

The life of integrity is a pleasant one, despite all the battles to get there. No need to hide anything, no fear in discovery, for all is exposed. Thank God that as we seek to walk uprightly with Him and make our mistakes along the way, that His forgiveness is eternal and His grace overwhelming. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Even now we can choose to be people of integrity for God’s glory.

Lord, thank You for your mercy – new every single morning. Thank You that You walked a life of perfect integrity. Give us the mind of Christ and may the people of God be Kingdom-minded. Help us to not get involved in civilian affairs that distract us from our God-given purpose – knowing and enjoying You and making You known, oh my God.

Thoughtful Thursday: Raising Abel

Train up a child

Photo Credits: kidsministryresources.com

Ecclesiastes 11:9 

“Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes, but know that God will judge your motives and actions.”

Ecclesiastes 12:1

“So remember your Creator in the days of your youth–before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them.”

A mantra spoken often in our culture is that teens think they know it all. And while there is surely a grain of truth in this statement, a step back reveals that it is a blossoming seed coming to fruition of the investment of earlier days.

It is sheer delight seeing the wonder in a child learning something new about the world around us.  Watching that wonder grow over time into fascination and a depth of wisdom and knowledge is even more amazing to see.  Such is the privilege of being a parent.

The quest I have held closely to in 21 years of parenting is an earnest desire to nurture a love of wisdom, fear of the LORD and a sincere love of the LORD in each of my children’s hearts.  Words cannot convey how wonderful it is to see them seeking after God and seeking to walk in His ways in a troubled generation.

The world around us insists that teens have to indulge in the flesh, sass their parents, live for self and rebel.  That is not what Scripture says.

Subcultures within Christianity can also have fads and recommendations of what convictions we should hold to in order to have godly children. While there is wise counsel often given by various authors and ministries, it becomes religiosity if we hold to methods and an external approach more than an internal commitment focusing on character.

We did not have television or electronics for most of my children’s childhood.  Then we did.  We learned lessons and how to grapple with this world around us and seek to impact the world rather than just avoid it.  We also utilize social media with age limits, are accountable and seek to use it for the glory of God.

I hesitate to share the parameters we set because everyone’s personal convictions vary widely and each one needs to honor God with the boundaries they have for their household.  Creating a center of wisdom through the provision of devotionals, worship music and a Christian education helped lay a foundation of providing a biblical lens in all that my children face.

Paramount above all is the voice within reminding us that “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD”.  We go through seasons in which we recognize the world creeping in and have to take actions to “clean house”, but such revelations are a gift from God and part of walking in relationship with Him.  More than rules is an understanding why we have such boundaries.

Giving space little by little for children to make their own successes and failures is frightening, but also a tool for them to learn from.  Encouraging them to pray for wisdom themselves will be their key to a faithful walk with God if they dare to ask.

Trying to find a magic bullet or set of rules will not produce the youth God is looking for, but fostering, living it our ourselves and creating an environment which encourages a love for God’s word and provokes living an honest life before our Maker is fundamental.

Instead of buying into the propaganda which makes excuses for folly in youth and wastes the days of youth, we can spur the next generation onto greatness.  There is a joy that comes from being accountable and living life through a biblical lens that no frivolous childhood could ever compare to.

Dispensing away with lies that say being godly is not fun and debunking the fear that says we cannot be in the world yet not of it, we can raise our children to have freedom within boundaries, genuine “wise guys”, guided by wisdom and the fear of the LORD.

Lord, it is a humbling, overwhelming task to raise children for You and for Your glory.  Please enable us to live a radical life for You that is infectious and attractive so the future generation will see the joy of the LORD in our faces, which far surpasses worldly pleasures.

Mundane Monday: The Discovery of Hidden Sin

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Leviticus 4:27-28

“If any of the common people sin by violating one of the LORD’s commands, but they don’t realize it, they are still guilty. 28 When they become aware of their sin, they must bring as an offering for their sin a female goat with no defects.”

Psalm 90:8

“You are aware of our sins; you even know about our hidden sins.”

Psalm 19:12

“But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.”

Proverbs 28:13

“The one who covers his transgressions will not prosper, but whoever confesses them and forsakes them will find mercy.” 

John 3:20

“”For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”


“I did not mean to” is the common plea of our hearts when we are caught in a sin.  Somehow we perceive our guilt is lessened if we did not intend to sin.  We judge our intentions always in the best light, but our actions betray us.  Funny this is, when we perceive someone else’s sin we can be quick to assess their actions and assume the worst in their intentions.  We condemn, but we would never want such a judgment upon ourselves.

We are often taken aback when we become aware of sin in our lives.  The surprise over the revelation of our sin is possibly due to our inability to recognize our own sin unless the Holy Spirit reveals it to us and our perception of ourselves is biased.

We would rather sanitize our sins with excuses or rationalizations than face the shocking reality that we are guilty.  Guilt is heavy and we cannot escape it.  It has to be dealt with and our flesh resists accepting the blame.

I confess that Leviticus is not my favorite book of the Bible.  Something about blood being splattered left and right for people’s sins is gruesome.  But then, so is sin.  The progression of the list of unintentional sins committed by various people – the commoner, the leader, the High Priest, the congregation of Israel – at first seems repetitive, but God has a purpose for every word in His word.

All have sinned.  All are accountable.  No one escapes the gravity and consequences of sin.  We all fall short of the glory of God and all must bear the penalty for our sin.  I am amazed at how kind God is to show us our sin and to ensure that every sin is covered.  Our hidden sins matter just as much as our known sins.  God does not want us to be deceived.  He wants all to be free from slavery to sin.

Sometimes we really are ignorant that a thought or an action is sinful.  God gave us the law to help us understand, but also to cause us to see our need for His salvation.  In His incredible mercy, God knew that we often do not see our sin and He fulfilled every law Himself.  How different this is from trusting man to cover our sins.  A person might be able to sympathize with our shortcomings, but could never pay for them.

When we see sin, there are two different responses.  Conviction is different than condemnation.  The revelation of sin is oil on our head and a blessing.  Even though it hurts, thank God for His mercy in convicting us of sin.  Condemnation is judgment without mercy.  The enemy loves to accuse us.  We are, in fact guilty.  No way around it.  But the soul who is teachable and receives instruction from the Holy Spirit is no longer under the law, for grace has come to all who will accept it.

His grace is free to all, but came at a great cost. The guilty go free and are proclaimed as innocent, but Jesus did not pay that cost so we could continue in our sin – that would not free us at all.  He paid it with His great love and compassion so we could look up from the mud pile we are in, step out of the miry clay and into the grace of God to see and know the greatest joy of this life – Himself.

The moment of the revelation of sin is a crisis we all will face.  We might want to resist facing up to our sins and owning them, but that is a miserable occupation.  Covering our iniquities with excuses never feels as good as repentance and God’s covering.  Give up.  We are all caught, whether in a known or hidden sin – caught by the loving arms of God, if we let Him.

Lord, You are worthy of praise!  Thank you for showing us our sins, that we might confess them, turn from them, find mercy and know the God of this universe!