The Advantage of the Long Road

Problems drag on and on in our lives, and it’s a challenge to keep your head up.As circumstances begin to play out in a comedy of errors, mishaps, and (sigh) waiting for the wind to blow the sails, the temptation to look at how long a situation is taking becomes overwhelming.

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Don’t be discouraged.  Problems can drag on and on in our lives, and I know, it’s a challenge to keep your head up.  How often do we sit through just an excruciatingly long speech, or movie and even though it may be good, it’s a natural inclination to say, “hey, how much longer is this speech going to be anyway?”  And whether this question is asked out of frustration or just pure curiosity, we feel justified in asking. We as humans live in the realm of time and we get mighty concerned about our time here, as we should.  As circumstances begin to play out in a comedy of errors, mishaps, and (sigh) waiting for the wind to blow the sails, the temptation to look at how long a situation is taking becomes overwhelming. Continue reading “The Advantage of the Long Road”

Violence + Injustice = Time to Pray

A man was at home on a Sunday watching a football game. His young son was with him, but the boy was being pesky and bothersome and the man wanted to watch the game in peace. So to keep the boy occupied, he took a page out of the newspaper with a picture of the world, tore it into small pieces and gave it to his son, telling him to put the puzzle together.

If I dwell too long on recent events, I would probably be so depressed that I couldn’t function.  This week marks the one month anniversary of the Orlando shootings where 49 people lost their lives in a senseless act of hatred.  The happenings of the past month: Orlando, St. Paul, Baton Rouge, Dallas, and yesterday’s tragedy in Nice, France, spell out a string of hateful,violent, back- to-back incidents that I’ve rarely seen rolled together in my lifetime, except during wartime.  Violence seems to be everywhere–harsh and sudden.

When we see this much violence and destruction it’s time to pray. Continue reading “Violence + Injustice = Time to Pray”

The Beauty of Meekness

I wish I had paid more attention to this fruit of the Spirit earlier in my life or should I say, understood it better. The subject of meekness is something the Lord has dealt with me about more and more. I can’t think of anything that I did lately, that has caused to God zero in on this quality for my personal devotion times with Him, but I know that I certainly have need more of it. It is so essential to our Christian walk and our ability to overcome ourselves and endure afflictions that Jesus promised those that possess this quality would inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).

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Meekness is a Christian quality not often discussed, nor is it prized by the lofty minds of business and politics of this world.  Yet, it is so essential to our Christian walk and our ability to overcome ourselves and endure afflictions that Jesus promised those that possess this quality would inherit the earth ( Matthew 5:5).   I wish I had paid more attention to this fruit of the Spirit earlier in my life or should I say, understood it better.   The subject of meekness is something the Lord has dealt with me about more and more.  I can’t think of anything that I did lately,  that has caused to God zero in on this quality for my personal devotion times with Him, but I know that I certainly have need more of it.

One morning I opened to Philippians and began to think about the following passage in the 2nd chapter:

5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

The word “meek” didn’t jump out at me,  but the characteristics of the Messiah and the submissiveness of a holy God did.

As I read, it became so real to me that Christ, who was the creator, came and submitted himself to the created. He humbled himself by giving up power that he clearly had, to submit himself as child growing up to his earthly parents; to a low status in life as a carpenter.  He became poor while he was here so that he could accomplish the mission of the salvation for our souls.  He made chairs and tables for people as a job, when it was He who had created the earth, sun, moon and sky and the very people he took orders from.  He had power over death and said “I am the resurrection and the life”.  Yet, he was obedient to death itself.  Christ told the disciples:

53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

Jesus submitted himself to the will of God.

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That is what meekness is all about.  Equally men, women and children are called to possess this quality in Christ. This attitude must be present in our everyday lives.

One definition describes it as an attitude of humble, submissive and expectant trust in God, and a loving, patient and gentle attitude towards others.

The dictionary further lists where it is needed:

Towards enemies Mt 5:39-41; Ro 12:17-20

In leadership 1Ti 6:11

In witness 1Pe 3:15

In (church) discipline Gal 6:1 See also 1Co 4:21; 2Ti 2:25; Heb 5:2

In the family Eph 5:22,24; Eph 6:1; Col 3:18-20

In society Ro 13:1-2,5; 1Ti 2:2

(https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/dictionary-of-bible-themes/8305-meekness)

It seems like a weak thing to ask for.  ” Lord, I want to be a doormat today”, but meekness is anything but that. Those that feel this Christian quality calls for them to be run over and stepped on for no good reason fail to understand it.

Meekness has to do with having power, skill and ability and knowing when and how to use that power. The meek wait for the God-appointed time to use that power.  Consider the following.

Meek people:

  1. Don’t fight over territory; they pray about what territory to have because they realize God is in control of possessions.

  2. Don’t fear their circumstances; they have the courage to seek God how they can better their situations; because they understand that all things work together for their good.

  3. Don’t seek position simply to be elevated in front of people, because they know that it is more important to have God’s approval and Him standing next to them, than to stand next to the highest person in the land.

  4. Don’t worry about what people say about them, because they are not trying to make a reputation for their own glory and bragging rights, but only hope that their character may be helpful to others and glorify God?

They do:

  • Seek God about the decisions in their lives

  • Treat people with respect

  • Pray that God shows mercy on their enemies and not that He destroy their lives

  • Let other people win arguments, rather than ruin relationships

  • Seek other people for help because they’re not afraid to admit their shortcomings

The meek have power and are comfortable with their abilities and skills but don’t use it to crush and hurt other people, nor do they use it for selfish reasons. We struggle against ourselves when we exercise this Christian fruit in our lives.  It goes against our very nature hold back for the sake of others. Man’s greatest interest is himself and to promote his own agenda.  Meekness is a tough thing to exercise.  So it has to be learned for it to grow.

 

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Let’s See How Well You Can Float

Have you ever heard the term “between the devil and the deep blue sea”? Back when shipbuilders made ships out of wood, the lowermost seam in the hull of the ship was called “the devil.” It was the toughest spot to reach and awkward to repair. Since this seam was the only thing separating the ship from the deep sea, there was literally “nothing between the devil and the deep blue sea.” Obviously, if this couldn’t be repaired, there was a strong possibility the ship would sink.

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I’ve often mentioned in my teaching that a spiritual trial is not the same as a test.  A test is when a temptation may suddenly come, and we make a decision good or bad.  A trial, especially a Christian trial is unique. In my book,  How to Walk on Water, I go through various definitions of the word “trial”. One definition is something designed to test our quality, value, or usefulness.  You know, like when a pharmaceutical company sends it’s drugs through clinical trials, like that.

Have you ever heard the term “between the devil and the deep blue sea”? Back when shipbuilders made ships out of wood, the lowermost seam in the hull of the ship was called “the devil.” It was the toughest spot to reach and awkward to repair. Since this seam was the only thing separating the ship from the  deep sea, there was literally “nothing between the devil and the deep blue sea.” Obviously, if this couldn’t be repaired, there was a strong possibility the ship would sink. The phrase later symbolized being caught between two equally dangerous problems. For Christians, the grave dangers are Self and the World. Of the two, Self is probably the most dangerous and hardest to recognize. Christina G. Rossetti’s poem, “Who Shall Deliver Me?” from Poems, 1876, called Self “my hollowest friend, my deadliest foe, my clog whatever road I go.” It’s essential to crucify Self to stay afloat in our walk with the Lord.

Overcoming the dangers of Self to be good ambassadors for Christ means staying afloat. Romans 6:1-2 and 8:36 teach us that we are always dying to Self and will be until we die physically. If we build, correctly, realize that Christ is the foundation of the Christian’s experience. Self-denial is the mortar holding everything together. If a Christians stops denying Self, the growth will stop also. Self-Denial bases itself more on arresting and crucifying the lusts and desires of the old man (see Romans 6:6, John 17:15-16, Colossians 3:9, and Ephesians 4:22) than on cloistering ourselves away to avoid temptations. Killing the old man takes full surrender.

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (KJV) Ephesians 4:22

Unfortunately, too many of us take lightly complete submission to God and then wonder why we begin to sink during long stretches of troubled times. Walking with the Lord means obeying His voice. Before the Lord filled me with the Holy Spirit, He knocked on every door in my spiritual house and touched every area of my life to ask, “Do you love me more than these?” He put His finger on my attitudes and other things that didn’t match up with the teachings of Christ, including my personal philosophies, old boyfriends, clothing choices, music, places I went, and circle of friends. Even my language became a point of conversation between the Lord and me.

Once I opened my heart to the Lord, He wanted it all. It scared me to a point, and I struggled with some things more than others, but as I obeyed God, He brought such peace to my heart that I just wanted more of Him. I looked behind me and around me, and as I continued to walk in the light of His word, I found that all I wanted and needed was God. The putting off of the old man was a good thing and the things I thought I had lost were not important anymore. I was gaining a better life. Then one day when I didn’t expect it, God sent the fire of the Holy Spirit in my heart which was the beginning of a deeper religious experience.

If there is no surrender, there will be no power. Countless people have started the Christian race and stopped running because they wouldn’t completely surrender their hearts to the will of God. Complete submission to his Word is necessary for grace to rise above our circumstances. It’s a package deal. We have a covenant with God to obey His Word, and in turn, He promises to help us endure our temptations.

Our prayer should be “Lord, give me the grace to endure,” not “Lord, please take this away.”

Are You Seaworthy?

Rough seas are not always bad things. The best floatation devices we can have are prayer and obedience when we find ourselves adrift in the sea of a long-lasting trial. While the churning waves seem to be the most frightening, experienced sailors know that calm waters are more dangerous because there is no wind or movement to carry them to their destination.

The real test of a ship’s seaworthiness is the pressure it can handle in the high waves.

The pressure of the storm brings any weaknesses or flaws to the surface.

It’s under pressure that God shows us the holes that need patching, the planks that need stabilizing, and the compass that needs fixing. If we can see the holes and patch them, we can sail on, but we must work on ourselves to keep sailing.

Our usefulness to the Kingdom of God increases when we conquer ourselves. John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” should be our cry. How many of God’s people have captured the world’s attention for Christ, only to destroy their testimony with un-Christ-like behavior, causing the Gospel to be “evil spoken of”? (see 2 Peter 2:2) We have a great responsibility to let the light of Christ shine through our lives, so our goal should be to keep moving forward without dowsing that light. Even as we hurt, grieve and pray about issues, let your love for Christ shine through.

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