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.

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.

Worshipful Wednesday: Provision of Promises

Photo Credits wau.org

Photo Credits
wau.org

Psalm 37:30-40

“30 The godly speak wise words and promote justice. 31 The law of their God controls their thinking; their feet do not slip. 32 Evil men set an ambush for the godly and try to kill them. 33 But the Lord does not surrender the godlyor allow them to be condemned in a court of law. 34 Rely on the Lord! Obey his commands!  Then he will permit you to possess the landyou will see the demise of evil men35 I have seen ruthless evil men growing in influence, like a green tree grows in its native soil. 36 But then one passes by, and suddenly they have disappeared!  I looked for them, but they could not be found.  37 Take note of the one who has integrity! Observe the godly!  For the one who promotes peace has a future. 38 Sinful rebels are totally destroyed; evil men have no future. 39 But the Lord delivers the godly; he protects them in times of trouble. 40 The Lord helps them and rescues them; he rescues them from evil men and delivers them, for they seek his protection.”

We cannot fully appreciate the grace of God until we understand salvation and what we were saved from.  Nor can we really apprehend God’s promises until they are all we are holding onto.  Until we have walked in the steps of suffering, we do not need to hang onto the precious promises contained in this chapter of Psalms and they will be a concept we learn and trust in by faith.

When we consider this reality of suffering, gratitude for the challenges of this life consumes us.  We recognize that we would not have the relationship with God if it were not for struggles that cause us to turn our face upward.  Sure, it would be great if we did not have to walk through dark valleys to appreciate God, but our nature is to crave comfort, not trials.  Our relationship with God would be shallow and we would not know the joy of intimacy with God.

These promises are completely free – for those who qualify.  I know, there is always a kicker to gaining promises.  But the thrill of this Good God is that living in the manner prescribed by God is the most blessed life, anyway.  When we are immersed in His word, His Spirit quickens our hearts to do what is right.  What kind of God would save us, provide promises to encourage us to keep pressing on, then remind us through His Holy Spirit and then enable us?  God Almighty.

Those who study His Word are apt to want to keep it.  Some think of it as brainwashing, but meditating on God’s word is life to our soul, not mere religion nor an attempt to just reform our external behavior.  The Word of God has power to change us from the inside out.  What an awesome God who set a standard, instructs us how to walk in that standard, gives us an incentive to follow His precepts, then grants us grace and forgiveness when we fall short.

Especially precious to me is when I read specific examples of God’s action in the lives of His children, like in this scripture passage above, and see times when God honored those very same promises in my life.  I praise God today for the fact that He makes promises to us at all.  We certainly do not deserve it, but He is the Covenant Maker and Keeper who faithfully continues to show us signs of His never-ending kindness and mercy.

Lord, thank You for providing for the righteous demands of Your law and graciously giving us promises to hold onto when life sends us on different roads we never thought we would travel.

Thoughtful Thursday: What It Means To Follow Jesus

Job 23:8-12

“If I go to the east, he is not there, and to the west, yet I do not perceive him. In the north when he is at work, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I see no trace of him. But he knows the pathway that I take; if he tested me, I would come forth like gold. My feet have followed his steps closely; I have kept to his way and have not turned asideI have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my allotted portion.”

1 Corinthians 11:1-2

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.” 

John 10:27

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

1 Peter 2:21 

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

Job says he does not see God, nor what He is doing – yet he has followed Him closely.  How is that?  How are we to follow Jesus when our experience of Him has been in faith?  Job understands – He followed God before Jesus came.  We follow God after Jesus came.  Both are in faith.  We were not there when He rose from the dead, nor when He walked among man, yet today we can hear His voice and follow Him.

His voice might not be audible to others around us, but to our souls it is clear.  God speaks to us directly to our spirit, through other people and through His word.  Sometimes it is when we least expect it and other times when we are seeking Him it seems hard to hear anything at all.  In either time, it is our will that is set to do God’s will that makes all of the difference.  When God seems silent, like Job, we can admit that we do not see His activity, but trust that He sees us completely.  Job obeyed God and he treasured His word, even when the chips were down.  That is what it means to follow God.

As a parent, I hope more than anything that my children will see that my love for God is genuine.  How will this be evident to them, that I am a follower of Jesus?  They see me seeking Him daily, but they also need to see the hands and feet of Jesus, lived out in me.  They need to see integrity and selflessness, they need to see character.  These attributes cannot be faked or put on – that would be religion – they become part of us the more time that we spend with Jesus.

When troubles come as they did for Job, people need to see in us that we are not a sunshine follower, but a follower and believer in God in all times of life.  Following Jesus includes following Him into dark valleys, trusting that He will use those places of suffering for our good.  He was acquainted with persecution and hardship, in fact He chose to walk that path.  We who follow Him must be willing to follow in all aspects of life.  When we are afraid to follow, we can ask him to give us courage and strength to do so.  Our following might not look perfect, but that is where a true follower acknowledges their faults and glorifies our perfect God in those moments.

Seeking to honor God with our lives and letting others see Him through us is our goal, but we are often wandering off the path and do not perceive it.  I am so grateful that God sees it all – His Holy Spirit reveals when we are off track and need reminders.  If we listen to that inner voice and choose to obey rather than just go our own way and rationalize, there is the sweetest peace and fellowship with God that beats by far following our own way.

Lord, help our lives to be hidden in You.  May our relationship with You inspires those who come behind us to know You, worship You and seek You fervently.  Your way is perfect – help us to follow You even when we do not understand.  

If the words of this blog have ministered to you, perhaps the songs I have written will, too.  Learn more at: http://www.pledgemusic.com/seeingdeep.  Thank you and God bless you!

Maintaining Integrity

Photo Credits mkalty.org

Photo Credits
mkalty.org

Psalm 101:2-5

NIV “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.  NET 3 I will not even consider doing evil; I will have no part of it. 4 I will have nothing to do with a perverse person; I will not permit evil. 5 I will destroy anyone who slanders his neighbor in secret.  I will not tolerate anyone who has a haughty demeanor and an arrogant attitude.”

1 Kings 9:4

“You must serve me with integrity and sincerity, just as your father David did.  Do everything I commanded and obey my rules and regulations.”

Job 2:9

“Then his wife said to him, ‘Are you still holding firmly to your integrity? Curse God, and die!'”

1 Corinthians 9:27

“Instead I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified.”

1 Corinthians 10:12

“So let the one who thinks he is standing be careful that he does not fall.”

Proverbs 10:9

“The one who conducts himself in integrity will live securely, but the one who behaves perversely will be found out.”

Hebrews 13:18

“Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to conduct ourselves rightly in every respect.

1 Chronicles 29:17

“I know, my God, that you examine thoughts and are pleased with integrity. With pure motives I contribute all this; and now I look with joy as your people who have gathered here contribute to you.

Psalm 51:6

“Look, you desire integrity in the inner man; you want me to possess wisdom.”

Psalm 101 was one of the first verses that captivated my heart.  There is something so pleasant about choosing, by God’s grace, to walk in integrity in every corner of your life.  I recall those early days of my salvation when my heart was quickened to not do things I had done before – things I did when I walked in darkness.  Suddenly I was excited to throw out music that did not honor God, which just moments before I could not live without.  In a moment I no longer wanted to just celebrate the holidays the culture around me embraced.  I wanted to live thoughtfully and walk in obedience to what the Holy Spirit convicted me of.  What a miracle salvation is!

Eyes opened to God’s requirements and my falling short, there was an eagerness to walk uprightly and still is.  Walking with others who also desired to live godly lives, I surrounded myself in this culture of integrity.  Sounds wonderful – I thought I would never have to worry about fading.  The problem is, in that Christian culture we can be deceived and go into autopilot.  We can begin to place confidence in past shining moments of our salvation and not recognize the natural slow drift that slowly pulls us away with compromise, the devil’s language.  We can forget that the very ability to walk in integrity is dependent on continuing to walk closely with God, not a once-and-done character change.

Sanctification means that our salvation is still being worked out.  We never walk in the dangerous path of thinking we have arrived.  We dare not accept every opinion around us just because it was spoken by a godly person.  We dare not think we are ever above accountability and transparency in every aspect of our walk.  No, we have to maintain our integrity and constantly filter our hearts and minds through the lens of God’s Word.  Grace applied liberally, some will try to tempt us to let go of our integrity, denouncing us as legalistic or too vigilant.  A legalistic approach begins to make walking in integrity another good work, which man will praise you for.  Whatever man’s view, God requires integrity – in the innermost parts of our soul, not just an external behavior.

Devastation can set in when you recognize a lack of integrity in your own life.  Don’t permit condemnation hurled at you by the enemy, but instead acknowledge the sin that is revealed and submit to God to change you.  Be grateful that you can see and don’t placate or make excuses for the rising conviction in your soul.  We are all humbled at the recognition that none of us is always full of integrity – but we can continually seek to be.  Lastly, the only comparison to be made with ourselves is to Jesus – the only truly Righteous One.  Comparing to others to elevate our own integrity proves we still lack it.  That age-old definition of integrity – you are who you are when no one else is around, is still a good barometer, but even greater is not just an outward performance, where we glory momentarily at doing what we are supposed to, rather an inward circumcision daily of the heart.

Lord, test my heart and reveal my inner motives that are hidden from me.  Help me to never grow weary of seeking to walk blamelessly in every aspect of this life that You have given.  Thank You for Your faithful mercy and forgiveness.  Awaken the bride of Christ to continue to walk in integrity.

Integrity Has Its Own Rewards

Image

Integrity Has Its Own Reward

By: Denise Pass © 7/1/14

1 Samuel 26:25

Saul replied to David, “May you be rewarded, my son David! You will without question be successful!”

David is being praised not by his friend, but by his enemy who was pursuing him relentlessly. That is a rare find. What provoked such a response from Saul? David had just spared his life, when he could have easily taken it. He could have “gotten Saul back” for all the evil Saul wrought upon him. But he didn’t.

David could have taken matters into his own hands concerning the promised kingdom; after all, God Himself promised that David would be king. He did not even count himself worthy and revered his God and the position of being king, which Saul held.

David recognized something so profound and valuable – every position we have is only because God put us there. How beautiful that David trusted in God, even though it seemed the prophesy of Samuel would never come true. Oh to have such patience and operate in complete surrender to God.

We all want to be successful, but how we go about achieving that success is what defines us. How we define success is equally as significant a factor as the success we are striving for. Is it success to be wealthy? To be king? David valued being right with God above all else and walking in integrity as a way of life.

In life we will have people who attempt to throw us off the calling God has placed on our lives. We will also be guilty of not staying on that path ourselves, but God is always faithful and can enable us to walk before Him in integrity. The same David would also later choose to murder a man and commit adultery. He was not perfect, but he was a man after God’s own heart who would confess and renounce his sins and bear the consequence. He cared more about God’s glory than his own comfort or fame.

What is it God has called us too? Perhaps disillusioned along the way, perhaps taunted by enemies or our own flesh that hurl accusations and doubt upon us, we have forgotten our calling or stopped trying to find it. May we open our eyes afresh and realize the mission we are on. The time is too short to miss it. God needs us to be people of integrity in a world of compromise.

Sweet Lord, thank You that you have a plan for each one of us and you will never forsake us. Please help us to seek You and walk faithfully with you in integrity of heart. Help us to be people after your own heart who do not bow to please the world. Your will be done.