Control’s Control

its-not-faithin-technology-its-faithin-people

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.

 

Day 28: The Fruition of Hope

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Having our hope transfixed on God causes us to seek to do His mission instead of our own.

Scriptures of the Day:

Colossians 1:27

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Romans 5:5

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Here we are – we have come so far. What began as a seemingly hopeless situation has been transformed into a Hope Reinvented and the fruit of this new hope we have found is sweet, indeed.

When life disrupts the plans we have, it is an opportunity to trust God and see what He accomplishes as we hope in Him.

With this new hope there is no more shame, no more cause to wonder if God is for us. We are confident of God’s purposes even when the situation is bleak. This is the fruit of a life invested in God’s hope for us instead of our own. Bearing within us God’s perfect peace and love, His hope brings our hearts in sync with God’s purposes as we look to Him as our hope.

When I sat in the back of a police station for the second time due to yet another court error, the pain of the nonsensical mess I was in wrecked my heart and hurt my faith. Why would God allow this? But the LORD used the painful mishaps of life and the relentless pursuit from others against me to cause me to desperately draw nearer to Him.

I longed for a simple life again, but realized that this hope would keep me in a state of comfort and complacency. It felt like walking on water as I stepped out the boat of my hopes and placed all my dreams in His Holy hands. This hew hope was unending and filled my heart with joy and laughter, even as my old hope faded away.

When a person has a living hope, the resulting fruit is a life lived for God’s glory instead of for vain hopes. Having our hope transfixed on God causes us to seek to do His mission instead of our own.

Thank You, LORD, for fixing our eyes on You – the Author and completer of our faith. Hope in You is always well placed and fulfills our life purpose.

 

Freedom Friday: Fleshly Persuasion

Photo Credits Jordan Dewitt

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Don’t settle for the excuse of “I’m only human” – in Christ you are a child of the King. Walk in the spirit and resist the flesh!

Scriptures of the Day:

Galatians 5:1

“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery. 7 You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 16 But I say live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are in opposition to each other, so that you do not do what you want.”

Galatians 4:31

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman but of the free woman.”


I was only a small child when I first saw the movie “The Body Snatchers”. It still makes me shudder. The thought of being ignorant to an entity that takes over our identity and takes over all of mankind was enough to make for many sleepless nights. The horror of friends and loved ones no longer residing in their bodies is freakish and terrifying.

I had written another blog entry previously about this movie – it obviously had a profound effect. But while this idea of our souls being snatched makes for an intense sci-fi thriller, it is also ironically a reality for many. No, I am not an advocate for the belief in martians coming and taking over our bodies, but I have seen within myself and others the propensity to let the flesh rule what is otherwise the property of God.

The flesh is persuasive. It wants what it wants and often goes unchecked. After all, we reside in these casings of flesh and it is difficult to recognize the worldly influence steadily creeping into our lives.

Sometimes we do not stop to reflect in our fast-paced world when our impulses seem so natural. After all, the flesh makes things look attractive, pleasing to the eye. Kind of reminds me of Adam and Eve and that fruit on the forbidden tree.

But a pig with lipstick is still a pig. If we drink the Kool-Aid without checking our thoughts and actions with the word of God, recognizing the flesh will become increasingly harder.

Like Paul, we ask the burning question, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” Although Paul acknowledge that we are easily controlled, he did not leave us there. His vivid description of the battle against the flesh ends with gratitude: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

We do have a choice. We are not slaves any longer to our flesh. It will be hard to resist the flesh, but perhaps clearing up the lies our flesh is telling us might motivate us to not swallow its prescription. If Jesus has given us everything we need, why would pursuing the flesh when its fruit is exposed and it is stripped of its deceit be desirable at all?

The days are evil and we live in a flesh-saturated society. Marriages and families are wrecked because of fleshly deeds being unchecked. The Christian must be in the Word of God to be able to see clearly. The cost of Jesus’ sacrifice was too high for His followers to live for their flesh. We were crucified with Him and must be a testimony of the life of Christ within our members. Others around us are depending on it and it just might be what makes the difference for all of their eternity.

Know who you are, friends. You and I are children of the righteous King, Jesus Christ. Our identity is sealed in Heaven. No more playing church – let us live wholly Holy lives for God, provoking one another toward righteousness. May we stop playing in the mud and walk in the light. We are not slaves anymore – we are free from the influence of our flesh in Jesus Christ! Hallelujah!

Jesus, thank You for revealing our sin and showing us where our flesh is taking over. Open our eyes to see and help us to live victorious lives as a witness in this fallen world, all for Your glory. 

Mundane Monday: Unruly Rulers

Steward What You Do Have - unruly ruler

Inspirational Thought of the day:

God has given us everything from provisions to positions, yet still owns and rules it all.  

Scriptures:

Genesis 1:26-27

“Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the earth.’ 27 God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.”

Genesis 2:18

“The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion for him who corresponds to him.'”

No one likes to be told they have to follow someone else’s rules. Ugh. Our flesh in this culture cries out, “no one can be the boss of me”. That’s our nature. God made us to rule, after all. But in what manner?

Man and woman were both made to rule over God’s creation according to His boundaries, but the tendency of mankind is to add or subtract rules to define our own boundaries to suit our desires.

We were to be stewards of all He had given, and within that work was a blessing – our enjoyment. But we can easily forget that it all belongs to Him. The One Who gives us the right to rule is still the owner of it all.

Something innate within us wants to own things, but in God’s economy, He shares it all with us freely.  While He was demonstrating love and generosity to Adam and Eve, they were pursuing their own glory and wants instead of His.  Their rulership became all about them and was no longer blessed.

He knew all that they needed, provided food and even provided for their need for fellowship – woman was made as a companion for man.  With such blessings, why would they ever want for more?

Both of them were present when they chose to violate God’s law.  Both confused the purpose of the role of dominion and what they ruled over was therefore cursed.  Even their fellowship would never be the same.  A sad ending, if that were the end of the story.

In Christ, we can see the impact of the curse in our own lives and resist evil, but it is a battle we will have to fight our entire lives.  Our flesh gets wearied by this continual internal and external conflict, but it is a battle worth fighting.  Even though the curse is evident all around us, God uses even curses for good in our lives.

When things are not perfect, the curses in our lives can be a catalyst for seeking God and seeing our need of Him.  The initial punishment meted out by a Holy, righteous, perfect Judge ends up as a blessing to those who die to self and seek God’s glory and not their own.  What an amazing God.

It is ironic that the pursuit of wisdom would lead to their demise.  A pursuit of wisdom for our own glory bears cursed fruit, but loving wisdom in order to glorify God bears eternal fruit.  If we can see our rule over what God has given us as a position of servitude instead of a position of power, we begin to see the wisdom in God’s plan and reverse the curse.

Lord, thank You for Your kind provision.  You have blessed us beyond measure and we still always want for more.  Help us to be faithful stewards and to care for everything You have placed in our hands.  May we be content and grateful, never forgetting that everything we have is Yours and for Your glory. 

Worshipful Wednesday: The Fruit of Patience in God Alone

Patience

Psalm 62:1-2, 5-9

1b  “For God alone I patiently wait; he is the one who delivers me. 2 He alone is my protector and deliverer. He is my refuge; I will not be upended. 5 Patiently wait for God alone, my soul! For he is the one who gives me confidence. 6 He alone is my protector and deliverer. He is my refuge; I will not be upended. 7 God delivers me and exalts me; God is my strong protector and my shelter. 8 Trust in him at all times, you people! Pour out your hearts before him! God is our shelter! (Selah) 9 Men are nothing but a mere breath; human beings are unreliable. When they are weighed in the scales, all of them together are lighter than air.”

Our flesh does not want to wait.  It does not want to be inconvenienced.  It wants what it wants, when it wants it.  It is a well known phrase that we should not pray for patience, but pray or not, we will all be tested to see if we possess this attribute. Patience is hard, but truly a trait of a virtuous person. It is the ability to endure hardship or suffering with humility.  It is the setting of our will to look to God alone.  It is not merely surviving.  It is not thinking that we deserve better, but recognizing that we all suffer in this life and that our dependence on God is what will strengthen us and enable us through whatever life brings.

The Psalmist knew that waiting on God alone was where His deliverance lay.  David knew where his help came from – only One.  How often we run to other sources for comfort or an escape, only to find we are worse off than we were before. Vices and substitutes can never fulfill us like God can.  They can temporarily provide relief, but deep down our soul cries out for more.

Patience is needed during the trials of life but the reward for patience is well worth it.  Eternal rewards are certain, but God also grants us encouragements on this earth.  To be able to have confidence despite our circumstances is supernatural. To have peace when everything around us ignites fear is nothing short of astounding.  That is the heritage of those who patiently run to God for the answer to every dilemma.

Our hope is not found in an entity or a person, which both fail.  The sovereign God Who knows all is the only real hope we have.  How amazing that the God Who we insulted and sinned against delivers us and exalts us when we come to Him.  We are not worthy of such a reward, and yet He lavishes His love and kindness upon us.

The fruit of patience is beautiful in its full bloom.  It is not patience for patience sake.  It is a deep trust in God and gratitude in the face of harsh reality.  It is rest in the wake of any storm.  Considering what we truly deserve, we learn contentment through suffering.  We can acknowledge that the ugly side of life has usefulness for patiently producing righteousness in all who do not harden their heart with bitterness, but instead look to God in faith – waiting on Him alone.

Lord, help us to go to You alone while we are in the waiting room of life.  You are our hope, our ever-present joy.  In a sea of uncertainty, You are our firm anchor.  Help us to see where we are impatient.  Grant us patience in all walks of life and a quiet trust in You.

Thoughtful Thursday: The Blessing of Rebuke

Job 5:8, 17-19

5:8But as for me, I would seek Godand to God I would set forth my case. 17Therefore, blessed is the man whom God corrects, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. 18 For he wounds, but he also bandageshe strikes, but his hands also heal19 He will deliver you from six calamitiesyes, in seven no evil will touch you.”

Proverbs 15:32

“The one who refuses correction despises himself, but whoever hears reproof acquires understanding.”

Psalms 94:12

“How blessed is the one whom you instruct, O Lordthe one whom you teach from your law.”

Psalm 145:1

“May the godly strike me in love and correct me! May my head not refuse choice oil! Indeed, my prayer is a witness against their evil deeds.”

This morning I am praising and thanking God that He loves us enough to rebuke us.  That’s right.  Where would we be, if we were just left in our sin?  Some of you might be tempted to say – “free” – but enslavement to sin or poor character is not free at all.  I love how the Holy Spirit can speak to us right in the middle of a thought we are having.  At the doorway to our mind and heart are multiple thoughts, seemingly at the speed of light.  I daresay we allow some in without realizing the poison they are injecting.  It is in those moments that I am so grateful for God opening our eyes to recognize thoughts of pride, jealousy, anger, hatred that are astir in our minds.  We might not call our thoughts those names, but if we look at the root and give our sins the worst name, we are not deceived.

We all know that feeling you get when you’ve been caught – either by another person or the Holy Spirit within you.  Sort of like the child with their hand immersed into the proverbial cookie jar, there is no denying the rebuke you feel in your spirit. As much as that conviction might not be pleasant, what a gift it is!  Our response in the moments following being confronted with our shortcomings can produce beautiful fruit if we let it. Do we attempt to deny the allegations, become offended at someone else judging us, or do we consider the rebuke as an opportunity for reflection and ultimate blessing?

Perhaps a rebuke is errant – maybe it is not applicable at all.  Praise God!  But more times than not, if we are honest, we are culpable on some level to the charge being asserted.  The messenger might not have been godly in their correction – even more of an opportunity to glorify God by not taking it personally.  A poor messenger does not always mean the message is not valid.

Maybe there is truth in the rebuke, confirmed by the familiar conviction felt in our soul.  What then?  No despair or discouragement is necessary.  Isn’t that awesome?  Just recognition and surrender to God, then replacing those thoughts with His.  Feeling mistreated by someone?  Pray for them (not judgmentally, lol), sincerely and do not allow your thoughts to become presumptive.  Let it go.  Accept the rebuke and realize that it is not an end, but a beginning.

David was shocked to hear of the behavior that the prophet Nathan detailed about a wicked man who would take from someone less fortunate.  When he realized it was him being spoken about, that he was the adulterer and the murderer, he was undone.  He repented and acknowledged his guilt before God.  He had become deceived and yielded to the flesh, despite knowing God to be the one true God.  We in the New Testament can do the same thing, yet the standard is higher. Our thoughts condemn us as just as guilty as if we had committed the actions those thoughts represent.

So where is the blessing in rebuke?  The book of Job, chapter 5 lists numerous ways we are blessed by accepting God’s rebuke.  We are redeemed from death, famine, the power of the sword, protected from malicious gossip, no fear of destruction, unafraid, our home will be secure.  Sounds pretty good to me.

Here’s the good news today – God never gives up on us.  He is a loving Father Who corrects His children, always with a redemptive purpose in mind.  Accepting His rebuke is accepting life.  Refusing rebuke or making excuses for it is death. Some may rebuke with the purpose of tearing down, but God is able to take even that and turn it around for our good. Amazing, awesome God.

Lord, thank you for teaching us through Your Holy Spirit and revealing sin, that we might gain forgiveness and fellowship with You.