Saturday, January 28, 2017

Not A Moment Wasted

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time because days are evil. Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” – Ephesians 5:15-17

       We are told time and time again in the Bible that as Christians, we are going to face persecution, temptation, and trials, yet when these things come we always act shocked and find ourselves unprepared. It’s like somehow, despite the fact we have been fairly warned, we never expected these things to happen. That word “circumspectly” is being expectant of a circumstance or situation. It’s to be watchful and in turn be alert and ready for whatever would come your way. If someone told you they were planning on breaking into your house, you wouldn’t take that lightly. You would prepare. The Lord tells us that the devil comes like a thief in the night seeking to steal, kill, and destroy. The enemy is prepared to attack you and this world is prepared to beat you down, but am I prepared to combat it? I have been warned so now it’s on me to be wise and ready.

         For me, time is something the devil can so easily use against me if I am not being watchful. It’s not that what I am spending my time on is necessarily “sinful” but that it is still pulling me away from spending time and getting to know my Savior on a deeper level. It’s simply wasted time and at the end of it I’m not where I need to be- at the feet of Jesus.

      I have to walk circumspectly on a daily basis, expecting trial and temptation. The days are evil and they are numbered. The Lord did His part- He warned me. Now I must do my part in being aware of this and making a conscious decision to redeem the wicked days and wasted time for His glory. What the devil tries to use for evil, the Lord can always turn around and use for His glory. The days may be evil in nature but if we seek to understand the Lord’s will and walk in that, then not a moment of it will be wasted time.

Application: Tomorrow morning I am going to get ready in half the time I usually do that way I can spend more time in the word and in prayer seeking the Lord’s face and will for me. #timeredeemed

By His Grace, I Run the Race

“For our boating is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.” - 2 Corinthians 1:12

        Man. It’s verses like these that bring me back to reality and pop my bubble of pride- praise the Lord for verses like this! I think so many times I can get it in my head that where I am in life came from me getting myself here. Because I chose to follow the Lord that I got myself here- as if I am entitled to every blessing I have because I “pulled myself up by the bootstraps” and made my little life what it is. WRONG. I didn’t get myself here, the grace of the Lord did. In that should be my boasting. My life and the blessing in it aren’t of me, they are of Him.

        When all is said and done, I want to be able to boast in that I finished the race He called me to run. But not that I did so in my own strength, but in His. I ran the race because my merciful God gave me legs to do it. And I finished the race not because of my “incredible endurance” but because He carried me through and picked me back up time and time again. He is the one who gets me across to the finish line- not me. My heart longs to hear the precious words “well done my good and faithful servant.” It’s a very simple concept yet so often I complicate it. All He ever asked of me was to follow Him- to walk and take up my cross daily. He will do the rest. It’s so real and raw. It’s Jesus. And it’s in that simplicity that He gives me a more abundant life and in that I shall boast. May we press on and continue on this race knowing every step of the way that it is only by His grace we are able to do so.

Application: Today and everyday may I be fully aware that Jesus is the only thing to boast in. To practically do this today, whenever someone gives me a word of affirmation or tells me something that could easily go to my head, I will reply to them by praising the Lord and not myself.

Making His Desires My Desires

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all liberally without reproach, and it will be given to him.” -James 1:5

So many times, the idea of “ask and you shall receive” gets tainted and twisted. Somewhere along the lines it got in my head that God is a “vending machine” type of God. My wish is His command and on any given day I can go to the Lord and “order” whatever it is I want Him to give me. I put the dollar in and He sends peanut m&m’s out. This thinking is so backwards and is NOT how the Lord works.

Indeed, the Lord does want to bless me and He wants to give me the desires of my heart. But He, being a good Master knows what is best for me and knows I will be blessed only when I have what He has in store for me. The life I try and build for myself is nothing compared to His plans for me. We are told he gives liberally and without reproach so YES the Lord wants to bless us! But the blessings only come when I am surrendered to His will and His plans for me knowing that His are far better than my own. The blessings come when I align my will to my Father’s will.

Wisdom isn’t just going to fall from the sky. If I ask the Lord to give me a Spirit of wisdom, I can be sure He will give me a situation where that must be practiced. We live in a “vending machine” world. I want it all and I want it now. But that’s not how the Lord works. Sometimes that bag of chips has to get stuck or the m&m’s just never come down. In the moment, we don’t understand but it forces us to have to trust that He does. But if I choose to be faithful, even when I don’t understand what the Lord is doing, and I work to align my desires to His, then the Lord will give. And when the Lord does give, He gives abundantly and exceedingly greater than anything I could have ever imagined. He is a good Father and is so faithful to provide for His people who so do not deserve it.

Application: Today I will write two different lists. One with all of the things that I desire in my heart and another of all that that the Lord promises to give me when I am submitted to His will. The goal being to show me that His plans are so much better than my own and is a little step toward making His desires my desires.

Active Servent For An Active God

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.” – Psalm 111:10

Having a fear of the Lord was something that confused me for so long. I’ve grown up in church my entire life always being told and telling others that you have to have a fear of the Lord- but what does that actually look like? Why should I live in fear of this God who is all loving, all righteous, and all merciful? I imagined the fear of the Lord as me tip toeing around trying to just keep Him pleased and if I made one wrong move I thought He would strike me down with lightening or something radical like that! How is that the picture of a merciful or loving God? I had the complete wrong idea of what it meant to fear God!  

We serve the LIVING God. He is present and moving in my life today- NOW. Because of this, the fear I am called to have is an active fear. My whole life I had imagined a fear of the Lord as this scary thing that should cause me to freeze up and shut down. The correct fear of the Lord should wake me up and make me want to get up, get out, and DO what the Lord has asked me to- for that’s where wisdom begins. He is an active God and thus I have to be an active servant. I live for him, not in fear that He will strike me down (that isn’t the nature of the Lord!!!) but that I know He is sovereign over all. Life and death is held in the palm of His hands. And knowing the fullness of His power, how could I not fear Him? How could this not make me want to get out and serve Him. And it is there, in that active stage of fear of the Lord that wisdom begins. The understanding of wisdom comes to those who practice the commandments- those who actually DO the law of the Lord. May my fear of the Lord, be an active one not a frozen one because I serve an active and living God.

Application: I have to let the fear of the Lord be one that keeps me up and doing what the Lord has called me to do. He has called me to love Him and in that love others. Today I’m going to take time and pray that the Lord would show me specially what He would have me do and what I need to be active in.

Stay in the Sun.

James 1:13-17

Darkness is the absence of light. The two are by definition, complete opposites. Night and day, goodness and evil, black and white, and darkness and light. When one is present, the other can take no part, lest it become altogether a new thing.

The Lord Himself is Light, therefore the things of darkness are nowhere to be found in Him. The Lord cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt others. Why? Because He is the Light and temptation is of darkness. Thus, when we find ourselves tempted, we know it’s not the Lord tempting us but rather it’s the evil nature embedded in our wicked hearts pulling us away from the Lord’s desires for us. It comes when we think that we know best- that somehow my desires have become greater and better than the Lord’s for me. And when those tempted thoughts are left undealt with they grow and eventually we find ourselves lured away from light and surrounded by complete darkness. Temptation doesn’t start as this fully developed darkness and death. It starts so small- just a speck of darkness. Just one little thought. But even the smallest speck of darkness can grow and in the end produce a hopeless death.

But the Lord, being ALL good and ALL perfect (having no darkness in Him) choses to save us from the dark that is within our blackened hearts. He is the one constant Light in this dark and cold world. He is the Sun. He is the Son. And His perfect love casts no shadow of darkness. He is ever radiant and shines on all who choose to step into the light He so freely offers.

I think so many times I can find myself thinking that the light that the Lord has isn’t bright enough. That the darkness in my heart is too great to be overcome. But I must not forget that it takes only a speck of light to illuminate and swallow darkness whole. No matter how dark or hard my heart grows, His light is always brighter and all I need to do is step into the bright and brilliant sun He freely offers me.

Application: This week, whenever I get a tempted thought or any thought that is not of the Lord (no matter how big or small) I will physically stop myself right there and ask the Lord to change and illuminate my heart.