Monday, November 23, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
November 10, 2009
The Battles Within
"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?" James 4:1 (NIV)
Our verse for today gets to the root of why my husband and I get in arguments: the desires that battle within me. Desires I wish weren't there. Desires that are ugly and selfish and petty. Desires that motivate me to seek my own way. Desires that battle within me, then spill over into my actions.
There is a battle raging within each of us. It is a battle between flesh and Spirit, between reaching out and focusing inward, between living for Christ and living for ourselves. How can we find victory in these battles without claiming more casualties? I have found there are several ways:
Praying: James 4:2 goes on to say, "You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God." James is telling us how to avoid fights. Take our unmet needs, desires, expectations and complaints to God. We don't need to expect our husbands, children, neighbors, co-workers or friends to fulfill our every need.
Walking in truth: It's easy to believe the lies of the enemy or our flesh: If you were only married to someone else, you'd have a better life. If he would clean up after himself, you wouldn't have so much work to do. No one around here appreciates you. The lies escalate the battles. We spiral quickly into feelings of self-pity and anger. Instead we can learn to recognize those lies and refocus on Truth—God's Truth. We can go to His Word and read what He has to say about the people we love and the position we are in. Psalm 26:2-3 says, "Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind, for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth."
Taking each thought captive: 2 Corinthians 10:5b tells us that we are to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." There are two action verbs in this statement: take and make. These are strong words that indicate effort. It's not something we can sit back and hope will happen. It's something we have to be intentional and insistent about. When our thoughts start wandering down those dangerous "if only" paths, we can instead find a fork in the road and change direction, remembering who Christ is and how He lived His life on earth—as a loving, humble servant.
Being silent: I have often regretted my speech. In the heat of battles, I've found it is almost always better to walk away and pray. If I feel I have been wronged then I need to ask my Father to defend me. If I feel that battle still waging inside me then I know it's time to ask Him to quiet my heart. Being silent is hard work! But I know that my silence is not as likely as my angry words to hurt the people I care about. Proverbs 17:28 says, "Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue."
When the battles rage within us, we can change the results and stop the arguments that ensue. It's up to us to pause and choose a different reaction. I hope these things will help us today as we rise to the challenge!
Dear Lord, please help me to remember to pray, to walk in truth, to take each thought captive and to be silent. Help me honor You when the battles rage inside me. I don't want to fight with the people I love and I need You to help me with that. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Do You Know Him?
30 Days to Taming Your Tongue and accompanying Workbook by Deborah Smith Pegues
The Reason We Speak General Editor Marybeth Whalen
Visit Marybeth's blog - Cheaper by the Half Dozen
In your journal, write down the four things you can do when you feel those battles raging inside you. Spend time praying and thinking about how you will do these things instead of being angry.
Think about the last argument you had. What battle was raging within you when it happened? What would have changed if you had done the things listed in today's devotion?
I Peter 2:11, "Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul." (NIV)
Galatians 5:16, "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." (NIV)
Friday, November 06, 2009
This is another one of my favorites too. I wish that someone would have told me growing up that I was beautiful and Created for God. I want to teach my girls that they are beautiful and their worth is far more than rubies.... Not according to this nasty sinful horrible world. This is a powerful song and I pray it changes many girls hearts toward their heavenly father.....
I love how this song is a reminder of his love and his Grace. If grace is an Ocean we are all sinking and I dont have time for all these regrets etc.... Most songs is our love song to him but this is like a love song to us. I really really like this song right now, I dont understand why I cant grasp his love for me.....
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
The Power of Forgiveness
When we have wronged someone it is often a great challenge to humble ourselves, say, "I'm sorry" and ask for their forgiveness. But, more often than not, the greatest challenge for most people is to do the forgiving.
When a friend or family member who has caused harm comes to us with a broken heart and sincere sorrow, most decent people manage to muster up compassion and accept the apology. The real challenge arises when the deep wounds caused by another are not followed by remorse or an offer of restoration. These are literally the "times that try men's souls." And they are the exact circumstances in which our forgiveness is needed most.
It's perfectly normal after having been wronged to want to lash out in anger and seek revenge. But it really doesn't matter whether or not the anger is justified - if we seethe in that anger or practice vengeance we end up making our own lives miserable. It's pretty ridiculous when you stop and think about it - to let some mean or thoughtless person who has hurt you continue to rob you of your joy. Yet we do it all the time. When we live in resentment and anger we miss the beauty and opportunity of today. And we also often cause the damage done by the original act to escalate and spread to other innocent parties.
Do you really want to live that way?
Bitterness is an infection of the spirit that rots you from the inside out. It is always self-inflicted because the root cause is an unforgiving heart.
Many people have suffered deeply from the evil acts of another - among the worst are betrayal and sexual assault. Victims of such heinous acts often spend the rest of their lives replaying the trauma in their minds - and losing the precious opportunity to experience today's blessings and joy in the process.
If you have suffered a grave wrong, seek professional help from a counsellor or pastor. Remove yourself from the danger - and from prolonged anger. Make no mistake: Your anger is justified, and your desire for justice, God-given. But allowing the anger to turn into hatred will only destroy you. And wallowing in the self-pity or real sorrow day-after-day gives way too much power over your life to the offender.
The only way to get out of the dungeon of horror is to unlock the door and walk away. In order to escape, you must forgive.
What is the key to practicing forgiveness? Grace - a word you don't hear much these days. It means "unmerited favour" - "undeserved blessing", and in the context of this article, "undeserved forgiveness." The power in the act of "grace" is that it is a gift - not a payment. The recipient does absolutely nothing to earn it - but it is given to him anyway.
The legacy of grace is freedom for the victim, and often redemption for the one who has offended so deeply. People can change - but they need a supernatural intervention to do so. That supernatural act is grace.
I believe in the awesome power of forgiveness, grace and redemption because I have been the recipient of them. They are what make me a follower of Christ. His rich, unquestionable, total and continuous forgiveness is transformational. This forgiveness is what separates the Christian faith from all others. There is no condemnation in Christ for the believer. How utterly beautiful.
So how to forgive those who have ripped your heart out? Call on the Creator of the grace that He offers to you, and ask him to fill your heart with it so that you may freely give it to others. One of life's highest and most fulfilling callings is to be a gracious warrior for truth. As Romans 12:18 says, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." It really is the only way you will ever be at peace within yourself.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
I Would Have Made a Great Pharisee
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence."
Matthew 23:25 (NIV)
Give me a list of rules to follow and I'm happy. I can follow rules like nobody's business. My left-brain dominated thinking likes order and routine, blanketed with no surprises. There's some comfort, I guess, in being able to assess my performance according to a set standard. If I'm obeying the rules, I must be doing ok. Right?
There's one big problem with that line of thinking. It tends to redirect my focus from what really matters: the condition of my heart. Jesus identified this problem with a group of religious people back in the day called the Pharisees, and it didn't make Him happy. In fact, He reserved His harshest comments for those people whose insides didn't look anything like their outsides.
I wonder if the Pharisees were well-intentioned. Did they really want to serve God and thought they were by following the rules? Or was it more of a power play to gain respect? Either way, Jesus split open their pretty packaging and revealed the ugliness of their hearts. Just like He does with me.
It seems God continually brings me to the end of my endurance, both emotionally and physically, to reveal the truth about my heart. What's revealed in those moments of pressure is usually something that needs addressing, like selfishness, insecurity, jealousy or bitterness. Getting split apart isn't pleasant. In fact, it's often painful and embarrassing. Yet, it's required if I want to become a true follower of Christ.
The reality is I would have made a great Pharisee. But the truth is I'd rather be a great disciple. I'd rather be sitting at the feet of Jesus than teaching in the temple. I'd rather share a simple meal of bread with Jesus than a fancy feast elsewhere. And if that requires the ugliness in my heart gets spilled out, then so be it.
Cause at the end of the day, I'd much rather hang out with Jesus who loves me in spite of all that junk. The other option is pretending it isn't there, but that's not fooling anyone. So, I'll welcome God's holy intrusion in my life, submit my need to rank my performance, and spend more time attending to my heart. That's what really matters.
Dear Lord, You are holy and righteous, and yet You love me just as I am. Thank You for calling me to a higher level of obedience, one that requires I submit my heart and my life. I long to follow You more than anything. In Jesus' Name, Amen.