Day 17: The Christian Culture

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our hope cannot be in people, or in a church. It has to be in Him alone.

Scriptures of the Day:

Philippians 2:19-21

“19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”

Hebrews 12:14-15

“Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness, for without it no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God, that no one be like a bitter root springing up and causing trouble, and through him many become defiled.”

Sometimes our hope can be stolen from an unlikely place. Paul is not mincing words in this passage. To say that all the believers except Timothy sought after their own interests is astounding. Of course this is one verse of many and Paul often spoke with great encouragement about the believers he was working with. Perhaps in this season in particular, he did not “feel the love” from the believers surrounding him.

I confess I have wanted to avoid this topic, but it has played such a big role in my healing as well as in my suffering. It is the elephant in the room that we want to avoid, but needs to be discussed in the hope of healing hearts who have been wounded by spiritual abuse or the Christian culture gone awry.

The first time I stepped into a church that was alive with joy and hope and fervent praise it felt like coming home. This is what it was all about – coming together and rejoicing in this new hope we had found. Church has been rather boring growing up – I did not know the LORD and we rarely went to church.

But then God saved me and I went to an amazing church (http://www.gracecov.org/), unlike any I had ever been to. There were exciting times serving in campus ministry, helping to start a church plant and serving on the worship team. Sweet, vibrant times of discipleship, fellowship and growing in the LORD.

When I was persecuted for my new faith, church was a refuge, the believers all surrounded me and it was family. Sometimes you wish you could bottle up the joy you have from one church experience and open it up from time to time when needed.

The church can serve as a great catalyst and cultivator of hope, but it can also serve as a place of great pain.

The pain is worsened by the fact that church is a place where we come for hope – a place where we know we are all accepted by Christ – but not necessarily by other Christians. When a Christian sins, it just hurts worse. It is not expected, but maybe it should be.

When we understand that the church is a place filled with sinful people, we clear up our disillusionment with the church. There is no perfect church and people sometimes can be prideful, selfish, legalistic, used as tools by the enemy.

Sometimes when life crushes our hope, we run to people or to the church as our refuge. This can be a source of inspiration, but it can also be a place of great stress and sorrow.

When my children and I were suffering greatly, we felt isolated and judged at church. The church simply did not know how to handle our situation. At the time it was very painful, but now I understand that they were just ill-equipped. Sometimes people meant well and sometimes they tried to manipulate us. It really messes with your mind when the body of Christ is not very godly. But God.

Jesus brings healing and opens our eyes to realize that our hope cannot be in people, or in a church. It has to be in Him alone. As we walk through life and encounter seasons that threaten to destroy us, we need to be in God’s word foremost and to find like-minded believers who will stand with us. The others who seek to kick us when we are down, or judge us self-righteously – we can forgive them and realize they are misinformed and focused on earthly matters. Sometimes we, too, are small-minded and need grace.

The Holy Spirit can help us to get over our shock from snubbing, gossiping, jealousy, anger and rejection that come from believers. All of us are desperate for the grace of God and need to keep the main thing the main thing – being a beacon of hope to the world that desperately needs Jesus.

The church is not perfect, but the bride of Christ is indeed beautiful. Christ redeemed her and He will complete the work He has begun in her. Letting go of the judgements of man and embracing the acceptance we have in Christ offers a hope that never ends.

Stay where you are planted and help encourage the culture within your church to be one that pleases God. This song by Twila Paris is such a reminder of Who the church is. How Beautiful. Love one another – Christ bled and died for us all.

Lord, help us to keep our hope in You alone. Everything else disappoints, but You never do! Help your church to rise up and be loving and accepting, able to provide the hope You have given so abundantly.

Truthful Tuesday: Our Moral Compass

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Inspirational thought of the day:

Only God determines what is truly right.

Scripture of the day:

Judges 17:5

“In those days Israel had no king.  Each man did what was considered to be right.”

A ship follows the lead of a small instrument no bigger than a stopwatch and the captain of the ship trusts that this small tool called a compass is not leading them astray.

The Creator of this world has left us with a compass, as well.  Not only an instruction manual called the Bible, but the Holy Spirit to influence us toward righteousness.

I myself am directionally challenged and rely on a GPS to point me the right direction.  I will often trust the GPS above my own instinct, because I know the rate of accuracy of the GPS is far greater than mine.

But sometimes it gets confusing when there are multiple compasses and voices crying out, trying to persuade us that their voice is the right one.  Folly cries out but so does wisdom.

Humanism has seeped into every aspect of our culture to the point where it seems odd to not just do what we feel like doing.  That’s because the flesh is very persuasive.  But if our basis for our decisions is founded primarily upon our feelings, we can be led far away from God’s best.

If the heart is deceitful and every inclination of our heart is wicked in God’s sight, how are we then to live?  What compass do we use to make decisions and how can we make our stubborn wills follow God’s way?

In our pride, we tend to think we are right.  All arguments emanate from this reality.  Authority is a means by which god establishes order.  Without it, we drift.  With it, we often rebel, anyway. Using a compass takes humility and trust.

There is hope for those Who would call on the Name of God and seek the counsel of His word.   The Holy Spirit is able to guide us and we are able to exercise our free will to walk in integrity or to walk after the flesh and do whatever we want.

Ironically, what we want is often counter to God’s ways and as much as we think it pleases us, it leads to our ultimate ruin.  The motivation to do things our way would change if we could think the matter all the way through and choose according to God’s law.

Praise God that He has absolute truth in this world of relativity.

God has not left us without instruction nor does He let us remain in confusion if we seek Him sincerely. When we yield our plans to God and filter our desires through God’s word, we find peace.  Gently He leads us like an inner compass to do His will and not our own.

Lord, help us to surrender all to You.  Your will be done.  Your ways are best.  Grant us wisdom to recognize when our flesh is pulling us away from what really matters – living solely for You, Jesus, and according to Your Word.

Thoughtful Thursday: The Strong Woman

Photo Credits: a-wayinthewilderness.blogspot.com

Photo Credits: a-wayinthewilderness.blogspot.com

Proverbs 31:25-31

25 “She is clothed with strength and honor, and she can laugh at the time to come.  26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue.  27 She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.  28 Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also praises her: 29 “Many daughters have done valiantly, but you surpass them all!” 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD will be praised. 31 Give her credit for what she has accomplished, and let her works praise her in the city gates.” 

Everywhere we turn today – the media, our culture – is spitting out (seemed an appropriate term to use) images of what is deemed beautiful in a woman.  Discipling a throng of wannabe stars, girls flock to the perspective endorsed and propogated by our world as if it brings life – as if it were true that their worth was tied to their outside appearance or beauty.

The temporary pleasure brought about by the pursuit of praise from man lingers momentarily only to give birth to shame. Visible in the teen girls who dare to flaunt and show what they consider to be their charms, or by grown women who still have not seen their true worth, sadly their fashion exposes their nakedness instead.  True beauty is long forgotten by a culture that does not fear God, nor have time to in the flurry of being relevant to whomever the “powers that be” are.

But not every knee has bowed.  Women indeed have a position of significance and a place in this culture that is one of the most profound and impactful positions of all.  The hand that rocks the cradle, that dares to invest her life’s work in the next generation in the fear of the LORD – this is the hand of strength.  Serving her family in seemingly pointless tasks, she is laying a foundation of righteousness in a lost world.

Not concerned with being “cool” or following the latest fad, the wise woman invests her life in God’s calling.  A student of the Word, her first clothing of the day that she prizes more than trying to look “hot” in some new style is delighting in God’s Word.  This relationship with the LORD guides her in every aspect of her life and she is not shaken when the storm comes.

Young women, you are the future.  Don’t allow yourself to be molded by a surface view of who you really are in Christ.  You are a woman of substance.  You are not defined by man’s praise or the lack of it.  Your beauty lies in Christ alone.

Older women, don’t let another moment pass you by without utilizing the influence God has given for the glory of God in those around you.   Don’t allow fear to hold you back from being what you were destined and called to be – a handmaiden of the LORD – placed exactly where He has you, to nurture those around You with His Word.

This woman of virtue defined in Proverbs is a collective description that gives us hope.  This strength from on high is available to all who will be still to seek the Giver of everything we need to be godly women.

We were not meant to be subjects kept for the pleasure of men.  Wise, godly men need a godly counterpart to walk beside them, not beneath them.  We were meant to provide instruction and guidance and should not allow culture or society to displace us in this regard.  Our household depends upon it, and our faithfulness in regard to seeking God and influencing our household with His hope and love has an eternal impact that no one can ever take away.

Lord, thank You for the calling You have given every daughter of Yours.  You delight in us and made us for Your glory. Help us to yield to Your will and to walk in purity, radiating Christ to this desperate world around us.

Worshipful Wednesday: The Context of God’s Purposes

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Abundantblessings

Jeremiah 29:10 – 14

10 “For the LORD says, ‘Only when the seventy years of Babylonian rule are over will I again take up consideration for you. Then I will fulfill my gracious promise to you and restore you to your homeland. 11 For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. 12 When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers. 13 When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you. If you seek me with all your heart and soul, 14 I will make myself available to you,’ says the LORD. ‘Then I will reverse your plight and will regather you from all the nations and all the places where I have exiled you,’ says the LORD. ‘I will bring you back to the place from which I exiled you.’

Jeremiah 30:11, 15-17, 24

11 “For I, the LORD, affirm that I will be with you and will rescue you. I will completely destroy all the nations where I scattered you. But I will not completely destroy you. I will indeed discipline you, but only in due measure. I will not allow you to go entirely unpunished. 15 Why do you complain about your injuries, that your pain is incurable? I have done all this to you because your wickedness is so great and your sin is so much 16 But all who destroyed you will be destroyed. All your enemies will go into exile. Those who plundered you will be plundered. I will cause those who pillaged you to be pillaged. 17 Yes, I will restore you to health. I will heal your wounds. I, the LORD, affirm it! For you have been called an outcast, Zion, whom no one cares for. 24 The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he has fully carried out his intended purposes. In days to come you will come to understand this.”

 

Possibly one of the most well-known promises of God is found in Jeremiah 29:11.  This promise is perhaps popular because we want to believe that our good is God’s goal.  But there is a higher purpose than our comfort and blessing.  God’s glory and a right relationship with Him far exceeds the value of our lives being perfect on this earth.

Rarely have I heard this precious promise considered in the context in which it was made.  It was a promise of restoration and healing in the midst of impending doom being spoken to Jeremiah for God’s people.  God was preparing to discipline His children in captivity to Babylon for seventy years, but gave them hope that He was going to use that captivity to ultimately set them free.   God’s purposes are always good, but the processes we go through in those purposes are not often valued in the eyes of man.

If relief from suffering is our goal, we miss the jewel in the midst of suffering and what it can produce.  From a place of suffering some of the most sincere worship is found.  It is in the dark places that we finally cease to rely on self and cry out to our heavenly Father.  Our eyes are opened to our need for God’s cleansing in our lives and suddenly our focus becomes clearer.  We see Him as our life; nothing in this life could ever satisfy us more than Himself.

We are easily deceived during times of blessing and of trial.  Blessing lulls us into a state of being lukewarm and God loves us enough to wake us up and show us what really matters.  The enemy uses hardship as an opportunity to create doubt in our hearts about God’s character.  

Within our Christian culture there can be lies of prosperity being all that God has planned for His people.  But we do not want to be guilty of what the false prophets were in Jeremiah’s day.  They counseled rebellion against the LORD by insisting that the hardship Jeremiah prophesied was not from God.  If we ascribe to the philosophy of only blessings for God’s people, we become spoiled children only wanting what we perceive as good gifts from our God. 

Accepting hardship as discipline from our loving God and praising Him in the midst is where our greatest gift really lies.  His purposes truly are only good, all the time.  How truly marvelous that our God would go to such lengths to convey His plan and hope to us.  In His mercy, God exposes our hearts and reveals that we have worshiped at the god of comfort and of self.  We are set free when we trust God in all seasons and worship Him in the fire as well as in the times off peace.

Even though it can be difficult to understand why God allows suffering in, God promises we will understand His purposes when we seek Him with all our heart.  His purposes are often hidden deep within our circumstances, a gift to be discovered by those who are willing to lay down their own agenda and seek His will.  It is in our fervent worship that we begin to see His purposes far surpass our understanding.  It is in laying down our desire for a problem-free life and yielding to His plan rather than fighting it or merely surviving that we begin to see through the eyes of eternity.

What a good God to inject hope when His people were under siege.  God knows we are fragile and tend to see only what is right in front of us.  His promises are amazing, but not meant to be our joy – He is our ultimate joy and satisfaction in this life.

Lord, help us to find our real purpose and joy in this life – You.  Help us to worship You through every purpose and plan You have for this life.

Mundane Monday: The Measure of Our Strength

1 Thessalonians 3:2-5

2 “We sent Timothy, our brother and fellow worker for God in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen you and encourage you about your faith, 3 so that no one would be shaken by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 4 For in fact when we were with you, we were telling you in advance that we would suffer affliction, and so it has happened, as you well know.  5 So when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter somehow tempted you and our toil had proven useless.”

Acts 14:21 22

“They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.”

Psalms 34:19

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-11

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.  For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

“You do not determine a man’s greatness by his talent or wealth, as the world does, but rather by what it takes to discourage him.”  Jerry Falwell

The early leaders of the church were not wooing new believers to their meetings with promises of donuts and coffee, nor making their time of worship more appealing with seeker sensitive or culturally relevant ideologies.  In fact, they promised affliction and hardships for those who recognized their need for a Savior and chose to place their faith in Jesus Christ.

Wow.  Hardly seems like a way to share the Gospel to us today.  Our society longs to make things easier – in fact, we worship at the altar of comfort and ease.  Now, I am not saying we cannot offer pleasantries to make the Gospel attractive to unbelievers, but the power of the Gospel is enough and the Word of God is living, active and powerful.

I confess that I have worried about new believers doubting their new faith when troubles enter in.  I want to protect them, but realize that God is better suited for that role than I am.  And when new believers see other believers who have weathered difficult storms and glorified God in the midst, that witness speaks volumes more than any program ever could.

Jesus promised that we would have troubles and demonstrated how to walk through them in victory.  Genuine faith does not mean we will not have times of fear or of great sorrow, but it does mean we have One Who walks with us through life’s tragedies and triumphs, breathing grace into our souls.

If our faith is so fragile that we doubt the very goodness of God when life hurts,  we have been deceived and been lulled into a superficial faith based on the idolatry of pleasure.  But if from that place of fragility we look upward and ask God to strengthen us, we become overcomers in Christ.

Authentic faith is not easily shaken when the storms blow, nor crushed by sorrows.  It is a quiet confidence that stands up to fear and bears burdens firmly trusting in God’s promises, even when it hurts. God mercifully died for us, chose us for salvation and will not leave us when the wind blows.  He loves us and we can trust Him.  Perhaps our view of suffering might be altered in the midst of God’s enablement through it.

Affliction surprisingly offers a promise.  That we will be more like Christ, that we will be comforted by God Himself.  That we will know and understand Him more.  That, when we have been tested we will come forth as gold.

Lord, give us Your perspective and understanding.  Our lives are Yours.  Every blessing and every hardship we pour out at Your beautiful feet.  Blessed be Your perfect, awesome Name.

Thoughtful Thursday: Whose Fault Is It?

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twitter.com

Proverbs 11:5-6

“The righteousness of the blameless will make straight their way, but the wicked person will fall by his own wickedness.  The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the faithless will be captured by their own desires.”

Proverbs 12:12, 21

“The wicked person desires a stronghold, but the righteous root endures.  21 The righteous do not encounter any harm, but the wicked are filled with calamity.”

Genesis 4:7

“Is it not true that if you do what is right, you will be fine? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it.”

Romans 6:12-13

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires, and do not present your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness.”

James 1:15

“Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death.”

Jeremiah 19:5

“They have built places here for worship of the god Baal so that they could sacrifice their children as burnt offerings to him in the fire. Such sacrifices are something I never commanded them to make! They are something I never told them to do! Indeed, such a thing never even entered my mind!”

Proverbs 19:3

“A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD.”


Daily we bear the sins of one another as well as our own.  In vanity we scramble to attempt to cover our shortcomings, but underneath is the same intent and heart.  In all the stress of our messy lives, a sinless Lamb covered all of the sins of the world and yet our hearts somehow still can blame Him.

Every day sin captivates mankind and every day the consequences of those sins are born and the blame is cast.  Sin ravages our souls and is often permitted to do so by the very ones whose lives it wreaks havoc upon.

A sane mind would not seek to suffer purposely, yet that is exactly what we do when we give in to sin’s deception.  God’s laws still stand whether or not we pay heed to them.  Like gravity, our decisions will affect the course of our life and the weight of sin will be felt, much like the joy experienced from the fruit of obedience.

God hates sin.  He hates what it does to us.  Our flesh hates the rules and boundaries set, thinking we are being deprived. All the while God wants to spare us from the spreading cancer which threatens to steal our joy and imprison us.

Time and time again throughout history God’s people are lured away by sin’s promises deceitfully dressed up in an attractive array.  There is nothing new underneath the sun.  How is it we cannot recognize the same strategies of the enemy and refrain from indulging our flesh?  Especially when we have seen in history the effects of sin on this weary world?

Deception.  Lust of the flesh.  Distrust.  Rebellion.  Self-reliance.  If in the moment of temptation we cry out to God, He will provide the grace and strength we need to overcome.  But all too often we don’t.  He makes a way out and we rationalize that our way seems better.  Or maybe we doubt God’s goodness or His ways and choose to be our own God.

While the prevalence of sin in our culture can be discouraging, there is still hope.  We can stop blaming others or God and put no confidence in our flesh.  We can turn away from sin and ask God to help us recognize it for what it is.  We are left without an excuse, but God forgives us anyway.  What kind of grace would choose to bear our blame?  Selfless, Holy grace – from the Only One Who can grant it.

Lord, help us to recognize sin in our lives and to turn away from it, the enemy of our souls.  Thank You for Your gracious covering and for setting us free!

Worshipful Wednesday: The Impact of a Righteous Foundation

Photo Credits: jimbomkamp.com

Photo Credits:
jimbomkamp.com

Psalm 89:14

“Equity and justice are the foundation of Your throne.  Loyal love and faithfulness characterize Your rule.  15 How blessed are the people who worship You!  O Lord, they experience Your favor.  16 They rejoice in Your name all day long, and are vindicated by Your justice.”

Isaiah 16:5

“In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it– one from the house of David– one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness.”

Proverbs 16:12

“Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness.”

Psalm 9:7 

“The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment.”

Proverbs 25:5

“Remove wicked officials from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness.”

Isaiah 41:10

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”


A king or ruler in this world system is not often characterized by being gracious, loving and faithful.  In fact, their predominant traits are based more in pride, power and politics.  Godless leaders in our age seek to subjugate their people by both the laws they impose and the freedoms they allow.  But our King chooses instead to embrace and exhibit perfect humility, mercy and justice toward His people.  While we are ultimately His creation and slaves, He calls us His children and cares for us and grants us access to His throne room.

It seems that the key to success in this world is all wrapped around clawing our way to the top, usually by dishonest means or political ploys.  Yet any position on this earth is merely temporal and the influence of our rule will perish, unless righteousness is at its foundation.

Unlike the politicians of this world, our King keeps all of His promises and not one of His promises are evil.  A man might gain popularity for His promises to provide for the people’s flesh, giving them laws that permit a sinful lifestyle, but a righteous leader knows that laws based in unrighteousness will ultimately destroy his people and his nation.

Any leader on the face of this earth who is worthy of esteem will bow his knee before God and seek to be His servant first. So, we, too, have that same responsibility.  Whatever our positions of leadership, we have an opportunity to embody a worldly philosophy, seeking popularity with man or to seek the favor of our God.

We might not be kings or queens, presidents or even administrators, but we can pray for those in positions of power.  God has placed us in an area of influence and leadership somewhere in our lives, too.  Perhaps the greatest role of leadership on this earth is not seen as that.  As parents, we set boundaries for our children that are based in righteousness or we allow the pressures of this world to dictate our leadership.

Parents are undermined by government and this culture, but not by God.  We need to rise up and be faithful, for God is seeking godly offspring to affect the next generation.  Much like a political figure who is watchful over his affairs, we need to constantly be on guard for wickedness and worldliness that seek to enter our home, but we also need to be demonstrating the right path daily.

The tricky thing about leadership is that is is not just telling people what to do, but showing them.  If my children see me seeking the face of God, that has a much more far reaching impact than just preaching at them.  Parenting is one of the toughest positions of leadership.  We must correct our children in love, knowing that they might not understand.  But if we are not faithful to discipline and watch over their souls, we are loving self more than them and not following the example of our Savior who led like a Shepherd.

Any position of leadership in this world is all about God and not us, all for His glory and purposes.  Every position will one day end, but the affects of how we lead can have an eternal impact.  Praise God that we have a sure foundation in Him.  He is holy, righteous and no uncertainty exists in His reign.  Wow.  May we apply His style of leadership to our lives and rest in the confidence that while the kingdoms in this world will all fall, we worship a God whose throne is established for all eternity.

Lord, thank You for showing us how to live, love and lead.  You are so Holy and we fall so very short, but please enable us to lead where You have called us to.  Help us to influence those in leadership above us in righteousness, by prayer and action.  Thank You, God, for the security we have in You, our Righteous King.

Thoughtful Thursday: A Woman’s Worth

Photo Credits: entiregospel.com

Photo Credits:
entiregospel.com

Deuteronomy 22:5

“A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.”

Genesis 1:27

“God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.”

Psalm 68:11

“The Lord speaks; many, many women spread the good news.”

This is a controversial topic today, but the Holy Spirit urges me on and my heart aches for the stolen identity of women in the eyes of this world. We are raised to believe we should look a certain way or that our worth is defined by our beauty.  But God sees us as His daughters, cherished and beloved, nurturers of His children, perpetuating to others the relationship we can have with our covenant God.

While history has often displayed women as being weak and certain cultures do not believe it is correct to grant the same rights to women, God has consistently given value to women and revealed Himself to them in profound ways. It was to women that He first appeared after He rose from the dead, and women are also interwoven into His genealogy alongside men.

This weary world minimizes people based on their gender, race or creed then glorifies another for being ‘free” enough to change their gender and attempt to erase the boundaries that God set in place.  It is a confused world that thinks it can take what God made and change its identity.  A man who is “empowered” to choose to be the “weaker” gender is deceived.  He was not made to be anyone other than who God made him to be.  Women are once again denigrated when a man can become a woman just by changing his parts.  No, that is not a woman at all.  He is not a hero, either.  He is a man still loved by God, but he will never truly be a woman.

Women were also not born to be men.  We do not need to feel inferior that our roles are different – God intended it to be so.  Being a wife and mother have been holy vocations and callings from God.  It is a role I was made for and I would not dream of handing that role over to anyone else.  No man could fill that role, nor could I fill a man’s role. They are each unique and bring God glory.

The greatest calling a woman or man could have is to be a mouthpiece for God.  No matter what gender God made us to be, we were made for His glory.  Our worth is found in Christ alone, not in society’s definition of us.  Instead of lamenting whatever aspect of who we are that is deemed to be less than another, we should rejoice that we are each uniquely made – like no other – and He delights in each one of us just the way we are.

Lord, thank You for your wisdom in creating each one of us.  Help us to be what you made us to be and to live solely for Your glory.

Weapons of Warfare

Photo Credits: covenantpromises.org

Photo Credits:
covenantpromises.org

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

“For though we live as human beingswe do not wage war according to human standards4 for the weapons of our warfare are not human weaponsbut are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds.  We tear down arguments  5 and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ.”

2 Timothy 2:23-25

But reject foolish and ignorant controversies, because you know they breed infighting.  24 And the Lord’s slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient,  25 correcting opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance and then knowledge of the truth.

2 Corinthians 10:4

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”

Isaiah 54:17

“No weapon forged to be used against you will succeed; you will refute everyone who tries to accuse you. This is what the LORD will do for his servants–I will vindicate them,” says the LORD.”

It is difficult to live in this body of flesh and live for the LORD.  Fatigue and worldliness creep in easily if we are not watchful. Sometimes I can be lulled into a false perspective that being Christian is to be “nice” and flexible, tolerant of everyone and everything.  I can become disillusioned when I think salvation is equated to being loved by all and living a trouble-free life.

While we are called to love everyone, that does not mean we should expect reciprocation.  It also does not mean that we ought to condone sinful lifestyles or give in to the philosophies of this world.  Paul, who had previously zealously persecuted Christians, was a fighter.  He knew that to be faithful to God meant to be vigilant with our thoughts, faithful to seek God and spread His word.  He recognized that this Christian walk is a battle and he armed himself for the task at hand.

But we all do not have personalities like Paul.  I confess that I am naturally a shy person and a peacemaker.  I would rather avoid conflict, but sometimes it is necessary.  On one hand, I will not seek it out and waste energy on controversial arguments, but on the other hand, I want to be ready at all times to give an answer when someone is truly seeking.

Timothy strikes me as a more gentle soul, wanting to shepherd those around him, but equally as faithful to disseminate the word of God.  I love his heart to keep what really matters in perspective – winning one precious soul with gentle correction. It wasn’t about being right, but about caring for the other person enough to be unpopular with them while the truth was lovingly shared.

We have all perhaps seen hostile arguments over faith and even tearing down of fellow believers because their style or personality was different.  We might have even done so ourselves.  These are not the weapons we are to use as believers. Pride and vanity can cloud our view and cause us to see things from a merely human point-of-view, but love can clear the fog.  Not the world’s definition of love, but God’s Agape, unconditional love, which speaks the truth completely in love.

Boldness from God consumes me and causes me to see my need of God and to fulfill the calling He has on my life.  I just want to be faithful.  Sometimes we can be about the work of God and suddenly find ourselves under attack.  (Which, by the way, should not surprise us, but being that my short term memory is lessened a great deal, I am surprised every time).

Even fellow believers can nip at our heels and judge the work we are doing in the LORD.  What weapons should be use in our arsenal?  Prayer.  Forgiveness.  Love.  When persecution or judgments arise, they are opportunities to walk after the Spirit and not the flesh; to cry out to God, not man; to read His Word and apply it in our lives.

The stumbling blocks of fear and self-preservation can inhibit us from using the weapons God prescribes for use in spiritual battle and from trusting in God to fight for us.  He is our Deliverer and able to accomplish far more than we ever could with our human tools.  His weapons are not of this world and the battles we face are not, either.

Lord, thank you for being our Defender.  Help us to recognize that every we battle we face in this life is a spiritual encounter, not a physical, fleshly one.  You have overcome all!  Help us to use the weapons You have given us, that many will be saved and healed.

The Goal of Selflessness

Photo Credits: followpics.co

Photo Credits:
followpics.co

Genesis 44:33-34

“So now, please let your servant remain as my lord’s slave instead of the boy. As for the boy, let him go back with his brothers.  For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see my father’s pain.”

Philippians 2:4

“Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.”

2 Corinthians 6:3

“We do not give anyone an occasion for taking an offense in anything, so that no fault may be found with our ministry.”

What a beautiful picture this is of selflessness.  Although Judah had spared his brother’s life before by suggesting they sell Joseph into slavery rather than killing him, Judah had finally seen that his former jealousy hurt others.  He had robbed his father of a son and was now willing to take the place of another brother, rather than see his father suffer anymore.

Jealousy is an ugly thing.  Striving for favor instead of being content with what God has provided is prideful.  Condemning others as if we hold the one correct view is sinful, yet we do this even in the body of Christ.  Why?  Self preservation. Defending self when we have been unfairly judged is understandable, but is it really the highest goal?  I know, I know. More death to self.  Ugh.  I feel it, too.

Don’t worry – dying to self does not mean we do not matter.  Biblically, we are to be concerned about our own lives, as well, but not myopically focused on self alone.  Deference hurts, especially when you have been wronged, but ultimately not one of us is always in the right.  Seeking God’s glory in the matter is paramount and helps to clear up our vision.

As we all want to have people believe the best in us, so must we extend this grace.  The church is a place where people should not be condemned for being imperfect, for we would all be condemned then.  As Christians, we cannot think that we are better than our fellow brother or sister.  No, we are all in the trenches side by side, working out character and sharing the Gospel.  Instead, humility and grace lived out and generously bestowed is demonstrated by loving one another in the face of rejection and hurt.  God help us to do so.

This weary world always has some new drama to unfold; someone who is not happy with you, or someone wanting “our” position.  But when we see everything we have as not ours in the first place, we have no need to defend self or hang onto anything.  Since we are hidden in Christ, He is our Defender and ultimately the harm others do to us is not to us at all.

Lord, help us to seek the best for others and favor them above ourselves.  May we be sensitive about Your Name being glorified by how we live and not as sensitive about ours.  Everything You have given us to do is about You.