Running Behind

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our form does not matter as much as the substance from which we are made.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Timothy 4:8

“For physical exercise has some value, but godliness is valuable in every way. It holds promise for the present life and the life to come.”

Being the new year and all, it seems “fit”ting to write some about health. So forgive me for hopping on the typical new year’s resolution binge. (There I go again with corny word plays, my apologies).

Running on the treadmill this week I could not help but notice my bee-hind was behind, if you know what I mean. Seems the winter months have already not been too kind. Ugh. And so, like a hamster, I hop on my “wheel” and try to counter the effect that gravity is having on my *ahem* lower extremities.

Fellas, my apologies for being so transparent, but we sisters have a little harder time keeping in shape, I think.

Why bother, you may ask? Physical training is of some value. What does that even mean? What is “some” value?

I am writing today’s post to spur myself on, too, for in everything I do, I want to give God my best and bring Him glory. Does He care if I am a little more fluffy?

God looks on the heart while man looks at the outward appearance. Our form does not matter as much as the substance from which we are made. What our mind reflects on, our heart desires – these matter much more than trying to have a perfect physique.

Yet the words, “some value” haunt me. Rats. God does care about the stewardship of our bodies – not the perfect size or shape – but the care of His temple.

Ironically, a lot of the reason for lack of good health is because of being too busy and “running behind” on all my to do’s. Taking care of self seems to be low on my list of priorities.

Here comes that “some value” phrase again in my brain. Commentaries render this phrase as actually meaning “of little value”, but there is still some worth in this statement.

In the end, if my heart longs for food that harms me, I have to ask myself if this honors God. Then ultimately, I need to die to self when my craving is getting in the way of being healthy.

Like the Israelites who were asked to choose between life and death – righteousness and sin, the food and exercise choices we make are essentially choosing life or death, too.

Being healthy (as much as depends upon us) matters because it means we are better able to serve God. These fleshly tents we dwell in will all fade away. The physical training we do here is temporary and serves our earthly ministry, but both physical and spiritual training yield eternal rewards. Physical ailments can also have a negative affect on our spiritual growth from discouragement.

So, the end of the matter is perhaps where we began. Physical training does matter and can impact how much we are able to serve God, but it does not matter as much as our souls being right with our living God. Physical training can also become an idol if not kept in proper perspective. More than our outer shell which ultimately will fail, is the building up of our inner Spirit which lasts forever.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 13 – The Holy Spirit

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

In God’s amazing compassion and mercy, He gave us Himself in the flesh and in the Spirit.

Scripture of the Day:

Acts 2:38-39 

“Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.'”

John 14:16

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.”

Ephesians 1:13-14

“And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation)–when you believed in Christ–you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.”

Job 32:8

“But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” 

Today I am grateful for the Holy Spirit and His activity in the life of all believers. In God’s amazing compassion and mercy, He gave us Himself in the flesh and in the Spirit.

We are not merely one dimensional; not just fleshly beings. We were made for something so much more. We who are in Christ, who have been forgiven every single transgression, were also given the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us to live this life for God’s glory.

The Holy Spirit comforts and counsels us in our relationship with God, guides us and emboldens us to do the work of the LORD, reveals truth and convicts us of sin, fills us and produces beautiful fruit and character within us, just to name a few of the activities of the Holy Spirit within believers.

As we consider the many various denominations within the body of Christ today, God is LORD over them all and the Holy Spirit is evident in them all. He fills every person who has believed on Jesus Christ and accepted the gift of salvation. As we ache for the LORD’s return, we have not been left alone.

Lord, thank You for Your Holy Spirit and continual communion we have in Your presence because of Your amazing grace and atonement for our sins.

This article by author Frank Viola lists 50 things the Holy Spirit Does in the life of every believer.

Thoughtful Thursday: The Source of Strife

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Yielding to God in the midst of conflict uses that strife for good and God’s glory.

Scripture of the Day:

Proverbs 17:14

14 Starting a quarrel is like letting out water; stop it before strife breaks out! 19 The one who loves a quarrel loves transgression; whoever builds his gate high seeks destruction.

Proverbs 20:3

Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, But any fool will quarrel.

James 4:1-2

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.”

James 3:14

“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.”

I am afraid I might step on toes with today’s post, but the truths in this post have stepped on mine in the past, too. You can’t go through life without strife, but finding the source of that strife helps to move through it.

Motives of the heart are not so easy to discern, but eventually God reveals the source of dissension. Whether it is a competitive spirit, selfish ambition, jealousy or just our flesh being sensitive or irritable, the root of all conflict is spiritual.

Recognizing the battle is spiritual takes away offense. Instead of thinking about self, what we want or being offended, we start to think about why the conflict happened in the first place and how God can be glorified in it. It might be our flesh or the enemy influencing our thought patterns, but we still have a choice. The battle is not against another person – it is ultimately the LORD’s.

After we recognize the spiritual aspect of our conflict, at the heart of discord is self. Somehow in someway we take on an offense for an impression that someone else did not treat us the way we thought we deserved or maybe we assume they did.

I like to avoid drama and needless strife. Seems scriptural, too – not to get involved in civilian affairs. But sometimes God allows strife in and accomplishes amazing fruit in an unlikely way.

What used to break my spirit when others would misjudge or mistreat me is now something I am grateful for. I know it seems pious, but God has shown me how some of the hardest moments of persecution, strife or being shunned have truly served to draw me nearer to God and to trust Him. It hurts, but it no longer affects me the way it once did.

Instead of trying to have everyone like us, we can pray for them and choose to rise above the fray. Maybe we need to examine ourselves and maybe we just need to surrender it over to the LORD. The end of a matter is better than its beginning, but yielding to God in the midst uses that strife for good and God’s glory.

Lord, thank You for helping us to rise above problems and difficulties and for choosing to delight in You, instead. Help us to remember the battle is a spiritual one and to seek Your glory and not our own.

Holy Week: The Wealthy King Who Became Poor

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

“He became poor to show us what true wealth really was.”

Scripture of the Day:

2 Corinthians 8:9

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that although he was rich, he became poor for your sakes, so that you by his poverty could become rich.”

Matthew 8:20

“Jesus said to him, “Foxes have dens, and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.””

Luke 18:22

“When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.””

It is easy to get lost in the mentality of this world system – money and belongings are necessary to make it in this world.  Modern day rulers and politicians try to solve the problem of poverty by many means.  Distributing wealth from the privileged to those less fortunate, welfare, etc.  These approaches are flawed in many ways; the wealthy did not choose to share, the poor do not necessarily appreciate it, and providing merely for physical needs does not change the condition of our hearts before a Holy God.

We flee financial problems like the plague.  It is not comfortable to be in want nor to be so dependent on anyone else for basic human needs.  Being poor is not a coveted position, yet our God Who owned it all chose to surrender His position of prominence to give all He had to those who receive it.

Sometimes when we have all we need, we do not see that we have nothing apart from Christ.  He did not have any trappings to hold Him back from His mission and gave all He had to accomplish the purpose to which God the Father had given Him.  How humbling to consider that all he gave us we will be accountable to Him for how we spent it – all for His glory.  Like Schindler, the German business owner who wept at the end of WWII over how many more precious lives he could have saved with the belongings he owned, may God help us to examine the wealth He has given us now and help us spend it for eternal purposes.  More than that, may we be open and ready to see the spiritual poverty all around us and feed God’s people with His Word.

To those who followed him, He announced he had no home.  To those who were hungry, He fed.  To those who were poor in spirit, He made the richest of all.  We typically want to hide our need.  The shame of exposure of being or owning less than we had hoped is seemingly unbearable, but recognizing our spiritual poverty opens our eyes to see our need of a Savior Who is rich in grace and mercy.

Lord, You own everything.  Thank You for leaving it all to ransom our souls so we could be with You forever.  Forgive us for being so focused on temporal provisions and concerns and not trusting Your provision and seeing our greatest need of all – You.

 

Thoughtful Thursday: Influential Influence

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our battle is not fleshly, but spiritual.

Scriptures of the Day:

1 Corinthians 15:33

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

Romans 12:12

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

2 Timothy 3:1-6

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires,

Ephesians 2:1-2

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”

One verse my children know well as it was a mantra repeated continuously in their childhood was 1 Corinthians 15:33.  It was challenging to strike a balance between warning them about being influenced by ungodly people around them and not judging them, either.

Much like the Israelites had to be reminded to write God’s word down and keep it before them, we need reminders to be aware of the influences all around us.

Most of us do not pause to perceive why we are feeling a certain way about another person or circumstance.  We casually give in to the emotions, unchecked unless we ask God for discernment to see the spiritual influence all around us.

The prince of the spirit of the air is busy.  So are our minds, with over 2100-3000 thoughts per hour going through them.  Keeping track and being accountable for all of those thoughts is overwhelming.

But when we study God’s Word and surround ourselves with godly influences, the sorting of wicked and godly influences becomes easier.  God has made a way out and He will show us what is pleasing to Him and what is not.  The choice is ours.  There is no middle ground. Life or death. Righteousness or wickedness.

Apathy is not the answer, self-righteousness is not the answer.  There are absolute standards that God has set.  We are accountable.

Choosing to abstain from bad influences is not enough, though.  Keeping oneself unsoiled is not the same as becoming a source of godly influences for those around us.  We are a light not because we have anything inherently good in us, but because we have the light of the world within us and He is good and able to use us for righteousness.

Lord, help us to be an influence on those around us that draws people nearer to You.  Help us to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world and to live for Your glory.

Truthful Tuesday: Whose Lead Do You Follow?

Whose lead do you follow

Romans 8:5

“For  those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.”

We’d all like to think that we are led by the Spirit and are making decisions that are wise, but often we do not see the spiritual realm all around us, affecting our thoughts and actions.  The impact of flesh versus spirit affects our lives and those around us.

The choices we make moment by moment are filtered by our mindset which is impacted by many factors in our environment.  Evident in our choices about what we eat (ugh . . . chocoholic confessions here for me), to the clothing we wear, the words we say and the attitudes we have toward other people, we have impressions or feelings that bombard us constantly.  If we are not careful and discerning, we can allow our perception or someone else’s opinion to affect our own behavior.

One main way this flesh is played out is how we treat one another.  Rejection of others who aren’t like us is common in the world, but unfortunately, it also happens at church. People shun others or just plain old don’t like other people who are made in the image of God.  Where does this come from?  If it is not from God, then the answer is obvious, but all too often we do not stop to consider why we don’t like someone.  We might all have different personalities, but we ought to love one another so the world can see that body of Christ is indeed different.

The truth is we are more apt to be carnal than spiritual beings and when we are spiritual, we often get in the flesh and think it is us who are righteous, when Christ alone is our righteousness.

While this is a humbling truth, maybe it can provoke us to be aware of our thoughts and behaviors.  Do they honor God?  Are they of the Spirit or of the flesh?  If we could grab a hold of this reality, Christians would turn this world upside down with godly lives and choices that no longer appear hypocritical, unconditional acceptance and love instead of judgment and forming cliques.

Pleasing self or others and seeking acceptance from God’s creation does not compare with living for the audience of One.  Like Paul, we will have to battle the flesh, but staying in the battle is far better than not recognizing the battle of the flesh versus spirit in the first place.

Lord, may You increase and may we decrease.  Help us to recognize the things that are from You and the things that are not and to walk in the Spirit.

 

Called to Die

Somehow we were tricked into thinking that this Christian life was to be a cushy one.

Romans 8:5-6, 12-13

5 For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit. 6 For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, 12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh 13 (for if you live according to the flesh, you will die), but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.

I do not imagine that many of us, when we came to Christ, were eager to die.  We had just been given eternal live – death was probably not on our minds.  Somehow we were tricked into thinking that this Christian life was to be a cushy one.  No pain, rose-tinted glasses, maybe even prosperity.  Certainly not suffering or hardship.

Where was the disconnect?  Christ made it clear that in this world we would have trouble.  That we would be hated because of Him.  Not much of a salesman, it seems.  He said we would have to carry our own cross, too.  Who would want to follow that plan?  Perhaps it is because of our view of death.

The flesh wants us to live for self.  We want to live!  God placed eternity in our souls – a desire to continue past this space and time, but the way our lives are lived might be the problem.  It is all about us – our pleasure, our peace, our way – until the LORD opens our eyes to see.  To really see.  Not just a temporary view of our fallen nature, but the realization that there truly is no good thing in our corrupt flesh.

The grace of God enters and we are changed.  Over time we can forget what we were saved from and begin to think the righteousness was our own, God forbid.  Why would we be redeemed and then called to die?  Because living for self means we do not see the hurt all around us.  Living for self means we are not living for the Kingdom of God.  When we accepted that free gift of salvation, it was a call to die and live solely for Jesus and His glorious kingdom.

Die, friend.  In the best sense of the word.  Dying to self means we are alive in Christ.  Live sold out to Jesus, available to His call and make the flesh submit to His will – You belong to Him.

Lord, help us to not lose the sight and understanding You gave us.  We want to be used by You – effective to minister to others all for Your glory.  Thank You for dying for us, LORD.  We will never be worthy of all You have done for us.

What Are You Afraid Of?

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A ship lost out at sea, an intruder in your home, a scorpion in your bed, a bully threatening you, a terrorist attack or world war III . . . all legitimate fears, I think.  But what scares me the most is apathy concerning my faith in God.

It is easy to focus on the here and now – that is all that is in front of us.  But to maintain a zeal for the unseen, which lasts forever is not easy to achieve.  I can become easily distracted and thrown off of a consistent devotion time, or allow that time to become stale.

So many have walked before us living to please their flesh, but I cherish watching the faithful who never cease to seek God and know Him more.  That is how I want to be, all my days.  I want to leave a legacy of faith for my children, where they can say I walked with God and was not merely religious.

Life is a mere whisper in the voice of all of creation and time . . . I pray that I can remember that truth and make my life count for Jesus and His glory.

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