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How to Get Out of Our Pits

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I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. (Ps 40:1-3 NLT)

Are you in a pit? In a place where you are frequently or constantly in a negative frame of mind? 2020 has been one of the most difficult years I’ve experienced in a long time. And I know I am not alone.

When I’m in a pit I want to be rescued—immediately and with one fell swoop of the Lord’s hand. Don’t you? And sometimes God does rescue us that way. But sometimes you and I have to patiently wait and do our part to get out of our pits!

Before I go any further, I need to clarify my usage of the term pit. I am using it here broadly to include everything from severe depression to a period of sadness, discontentment, or discouragement in which you cannot seem to escape.

So, how do we do get out of our pits?

(Assuming you want to!)

By grabbing onto Jesus, our Rope, and holding on tight with all our might, as He pulls us out.

What does that really look like in everyday life? How do you and I actually grab unto the Rope of Hope?

First, understand that Jesus Christ is the Word, the Logos, which basically means the whole of Scripture, its message in its entirety.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (Jn 1:1)

But there’s another often-used Greek word—Rhema, which means a specific utterance—a specific truth (e.g. Eph 6:17).

And these words are alive (Heb 4:12)!

Jesus, the Logos, utters Rhemas down to us. He speaks specific pertinent truths which we need to hear, take hold of (i.e. believe), and apply to where we are, so He can pull us out.

Jesus, the Living Word, our Living Hope is speaking living truths that will set us free!

 

As He pulls me out of the deep mire, I hear Him speak…

  • Kind words of comfort and love:

“I am the God of all comfort. I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (2 Cor 1:3; Jer 31:3)

  • Encouraging, life-giving words:

“You can hold on. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.” (Phil 4:13)

  • Logical words:

“My truth is what will set you free. Your way doesn’t work. Try it My way.”

  • Strong words:

“Come on! Keep fighting! Keep your eyes on Me, the Author and Perfecter of your Faith (Heb 12:2). You will receive what I have promised if you don’t give up! (Heb 10:32-37)”

  • Sobering words:

“There’s too much at stake for you to give up! Don’t waste all that you have done! Don’t waste this pain!”

  • Pleading words:

“Do it for Me—out of your love for Me.”

And

  • “Whatever else I need in that moment” words

How can you hear these words for yourself? Simply by taking the time and making the effort to read and absorb God’s Word for yourself. The more familiar you are with The Logos (the whole Bible—not just a few verses here and there), the more easily you will be able to hear and grab onto His Rhemas, His specific truths for you, and be pulled out.

You and I may not be able to see Jesus now, but we can hear His pit-saving words.

There may be times, though, when you need someone else to help you hear—to point out what those specific relevant truths are. That may be a friend, teacher, pastor, or even a counselor. There’s no shame in that—only be sure that their advice is biblically-based.

So my friends, when you’re in a pit and can’t seem to get out, remember that Father God has let down a Rope of hope into your dark place. He is the Living Word, our Living Hope. Grab unto Him. Listen to what He is saying. He’s not letting go; He won’t let you down (literally), and will help you not to let go, even when it feels like you have no more strength left. Do your part like King David who said…

My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. (Ps 63:8)

Then you’ll be able to say like him…

Here are some resources that will help you grab unto the Living Word of God:

Getting into the Word and Getting the Word into You Revive Our Hearts Podcast Series

How Do I Begin Reading the Bible? Living on the Edge Ministry

On My Father’s Lap: Drawing Near to Your Father in HeavenNew Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

All other Scripture taken from New International Version (NIV) THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide. 

Seeing Life through Jesus’ Eyes

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A few weeks ago, I asked what we were going to give Jesus for His birthday. After much prayer, I decided to give Him my eyes—how I look at things.

I want to see life through Jesus’ eyes.

The Lord has repeatedly impressed upon me the importance of keeping an eternal perspective. I’ve written about it often (See list of blogs below). However, right now, I find myself in dire need of a re-focus. My vision has become distorted because what I see with my physical eyes is not what I want or expected to see at this point in my life—especially in regards to my ministry.

I want to make a big impact for God’s kingdom, to be used mightily by Him—for His glory. And that desire pleases the Lord. But I had momentarily lost sight of the fact that a large impact typically consists of many small ones. What if…

Instead of looking to make a big impact, instead of looking for some big display of God’s glory done through us, we look for little ways to display His glory?

God does do big miracles, revealing Himself and His glory. But He also does small ones, day in and day out, showing Himself to be real and present in the moment; showing His love and care in the little things as well as the big things.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Ps 46:1)

And He wants to use you and me in the process. What a privilege!

What are some of these “little” ways in which we can make an everlasting impact?

  • Small acts of kindnesses that show people we care
  • An encouraging word
  • Remaining steadfast in trials by trusting God
  • Praising God instead of complaining
  • Being a living example to those around us in reading the Bible, praying, and attending church
  • Praying with someone in that moment instead of saying you will pray for them (and then forgetting)
  • Speaking truth, even when it’s hard
  • Spending quality time with a loved one

There are countless ways.

For me, it’s to…

  • Write the next blog, book, or other resource—even if only a few people read them.
  • Post the next item on Facebook
  • Teach the next Bible study class
  • Impart one truth that will help that one person in that one moment in cyberspace or just where I happen to be physically

Basically, in this moment how can we act like Jesus who is living inside us believers?

What would Jesus do in this moment to produce lasting fruit and bring His Father glory (John 15:8)? You know—Jesus didn’t only do big miraculous things. He was involved in the nitty gritty of people’s lives.

God is the One in charge of the results, of the eternal fruit produced by our obedience. My job, your job, is to keep our eyes on Jesus. He’s the One who has the eternal 20/20 vision. Sometimes I can see what God is doing—eternally speaking (the saving of a soul, the spiritual growth of a sister…). But much of the time I can’t see. That’s when I need to use my eyes of faith, which He has given me.

It’s funny. I’m giving Jesus my eyes and He’s giving me His eyes, His vision. I guess we really did more of a gift exchange!

And when I can’t see like He does, I can still see Him—my beautiful, beautiful Savior who endured so much for me!

So until next time, my friends…

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb 12:2-3)

~~~~~

Want to increase your awareness of God’s presence in your daily life?

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Blogs with an eternal perspective theme:

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

Life’s Challenges Can Be Like Raging Waters

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Life’s challenges can be like raging waters—Will you be engulfed by them or ride through them?

If the LORD had not been on our side…the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away. (Ps 124:1, 4-5)

As we prepare for the new year ahead with so many unknowns, the Lord reminded me of one of my trips to my favorite hiking spot in Maryland—Swallow Falls State Park. It has the highest waterfalls in the state. Only 52 feet but the hiking trail is entirely along a series of beautiful cascades and absolutely gorgeous.

The last time I went, the water was raging due to extremely rainy weather. I got to see 3 kayakers go through one of the cascades; then I saw 3 others literally under the highest one.

Those waterfalls reminded me that life’s trials are often like that. Sometimes they are just a trickle; other times they are full and raging. Hardships in this life are inevitable. But we have a choice in how we deal with them. We can allow ourselves to be engulfed, consumed, and swept under, or we can go through them “enjoying” the ride.

God’s grace will enable us to make the right choice.

It was really cool watching those 3 kayakers make it through those the falls unscathed. There was definitely danger; a real possibility that they could get hurt. We onlookers were concerned. But they made it and all of us were thrilled with their accomplishment. I was able to capture it on video. (You can watch it here.)

But observing the other 3 that were under the torrential 52-foot falls was nerve-racking. And in my opinion—idiotic.  See the picture below.

Watching others go through difficulties, especially horrific ones, makes us wonder if they’re going to make it. We feel the same way when we are the ones in the midst of raging waters.

Some people are pulled under, flooded with the pain of it all; immobilized.

Others come out the other end, praising God for how He got them through it. That’s exciting and encouraging to watch! They probably weren’t thrilled during the trial. But afterwards, in looking back, they saw what God had done; amazed that they weren’t consumed. They knew they couldn’t have made it through without God. I’m sure many of you know exactly what I mean.

On the night after my husband’s passing, as I was preparing for bed, I distinctly remember telling God that if He wasn’t real, that if He didn’t help me, I wasn’t going to make it!

But I did not drown in the grief of losing my soulmate. Rather God’s miraculous power has enabled me to kayak through life—even through very tumultuous waters. And He has given me joy through it. Life can be a thrilling adventure with Christ! If we go with the flow—His flow.

I have many other examples of God’s deliverance, as I’m sure you do. We need to remember these incredible rescues by our very faithful God because…

there are more raging rapids up ahead and others are watching.

Our attitude and behavior in difficult waters speak volumes to those around us, and determines whether we will experience the abundant life.

Until next time, my friends, life’s challenges can be like raging waters—Will you be engulfed by them or ride through them? You choose. How you respond will make a huge difference in your life and in the life of others.

Oh no! Wait! I think I hear a roaring sound up ahead. What will you do through your next (or current) set of rapids?

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you…. (Is 43:2)

 

 

All Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible: New International Version®. NIV. ® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

 

Jesus, What Do YOU Want for Christmas?

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What in the world am I going to get my husband for Christmas? I have no idea what to get my mother-in-law—she has everything! I never know what to get my child’s teacher! Anxiety, stress, wallet pains.

It’s that time of year where we search for the perfect gift for our loved ones. Last week, I gave you my silly gift giving guidelines (I hope I made you laugh). But all kidding aside–what do we give the King of kings?

Jesus, what do You want for Christmas?

I’ve been wrestling with this question the last few weeks. What do you give Someone who has everything—who made everything? He who created the magnificent heavens down to the tiniest flower—doesn’t need anything!

Yet He wants me–all of me! And all of you!

What does that actually look like in my life, in your life? The greatest commandment says:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mk 12:30, emphasis added)

We humans have many facets to our being—soul, spirit, heart, conscience, mind, flesh, and will. I like the way theologian, C. Ryrie, puts it:

“Man is like a diamond with its many facets. Those facets are not separate entities, yet they reflect various aspects of the whole.  They may serve similar or overlapping functions, yet they are distinguishable.  They are not parts; they are aspects, facets, faces of the whole.”*

To help us determine what the Lord Jesus wants from us for Christmas, let’s ask Him…

“Is there any part of me that I haven’t fully given over?”

BodyIs there any physical part of my body that I haven’t surrendered?

  • Could I eat healthier?
  • Could I exercise more consistently?
  • Am I getting enough sleep?
  • Is there an unhealthy habit that I need to stop?

Not just so I could feel better, but to have more motivation and energy to serve God.

Mind

  • Am I filling my mind with good things so I can be and act more like Jesus? Or am I dwelling on the negative? Consumed with worry, discontentment, or despair.
  • Am I fixing my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of my faith (Heb 12:2), or on what I don’t have, don’t want, or don’t like?
  • Am I reading, studying, and meditating on His Word; am I delighting in it? Or am I just superficially reading it to cross it off my to do list?

Emotions

  • Have I given Him control over my emotions? Or am I allowing them to cause me to sin?
  • Am I letting fear override witnessing to the lost?
  • Am I letting my impatient tendencies move me ahead of God’s plan?
  • Are doubt and perfectionism preventing a step of faith?

Will

  • Am I surrendering my desires to God’s?
  • Have I become an Indian giver; reneging on my commitments to Him this year?
  • Am I choosing His way instead of my way in the small as well as the big decisions?

So my friends, I don’t know what Jesus wants you to give Him for Christmas. I don’t know yet either. But let’s not get anxious or stressed out over it; nor be concerned with the cost (although that’s a tough one). Instead, let’s ask Him with sincerity, an open heart, and repeatedly. He WILL tell us. He always answers prayers like that!

Oh, and let’s not forget to ask Him for help in actually giving it to Him—we’re going to need that as well!

 “So I say to you, ask and keep on asking, and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking, and you will find; knock and keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” (Lk 11:9 AMP)

 

*Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986, 1999), 225.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

 

Christmas Gift Guidelines (with a Twist)

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It’s that time of year again–when we give presents to the people we care about. But it’s difficult to know what the best gift is for someone. Let me help by giving you my

Christmas Gift Guidelines-with a Twist

Here are gift categories you should consider before making your purchase.

The Totally Useless Gift

  • A wool hat for your missionary aunt in Uganda.
  • A surf board for your brother who lives in Kansas

The What is it? Gift

A teenager giving his 90-year-old grandmother a smart phone.

The “I don’t know what I was thinking!” Gift

A senile husband giving his wife a rental DVD when they didn’t even own a DVD player.

The “I don’t know what YOU were thinking!” Gift

An animated Singing & Dancing Moose for $56.99 or a Two Person Ugly Christmas Sweater: Naughty & Nice for $69.95 from Stupid.com.*

I guarantee you that the words “How could you waste money on that?!” will be ringing in your ears for quite some time!

The “Oh no, not again!” Gift

Like Grandma’s fruitcake.

The Totally Thoughtless and Inconsiderate Gift

Giving a diabetic sweets.

The Totally Selfish Gift

A high society lady gave her sister, Mary, a beautiful pink scarf. “Oh,” said Mary, trying to keep the disappointment out of her voice. “Why did you give me this color? You know I don’t look good in pink with my red hair.” The sister responded, “Because I look fabulous in pink and I might want to borrow it sometime.”

The “How could you?” Gift

Once my in-laws gave their dog, Boots, boots for Christmas. It was hilarious but so sad. Boots just stood there, unmoving, with the most pathetic look on his face as if to say “How could you do this to me? I feel so betrayed!”

The “Honey, I think we made a mistake!” Gift.

When my husband was young, he and his brother got toy swords for Christmas. Five minutes later–so I’m told–his parents  permanently took them away because they were in the process of really hurting each other!

The It doesn’t matter Gift

Some people are never happy no matter what they get. Take this story of a family who had twin boys–opposite in every way. One was an optimist, the other a complete pessimist. One Christmas their father loaded the pessimist’s room with every imaginable toy and game. The optimist’s room he loaded with horse manure.

That night the father passed by the pessimist’s room and found him sitting amid his new gifts crying bitterly. “Why are you crying?” the father asked. “Because my friends will be jealous, I’ll have to read all these instructions before I can play, and I’ll constantly need batteries!”

Passing the optimist’s room, the father found him dancing for joy in the pile of manure. “What are you so happy about?” he asked. His son gleefully exclaimed, “There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”

Worst Gifts

  • Bathroom scale
  • Diet cook book
  • Hair dye

Best Gifts

  • Kids: batteries
  • Teenager: the latest electronic gaming system
  • Wife: Macy’s gift card
  • Man: The latest TV with the best picture, and un-interrupted time to watch football.
  • Everyone: Yourself—your love, kindness, time, and laughter.

 “The best of all presents around a Christmas tree is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” Burton Hillis

But…

The BEST gift ever is Jesus!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (Jn 3:16)

He’s all we need or should want for Christmas!!! 

So my friends, I hope my Christmas Gift Guidelines have made you laugh. Be mindful of others and your wallet as you figure out the best presents to give. And don’t forget to put Jesus on your list of recipients. What does Jesus want from you this Christmas? You won’t find that in a store! Stay tuned for next week’s blog for ideas on that! 

 

Merry Christmas everyone, and to all a good shopping!

 

*This website no longer exists, but other ones—far worse do. Please do not waste any time and effort looking them up!

 

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

 

 

 

What Would Bring God the MOST Glory?

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Out of the blue—just 2 months prior to my greatly anticipated hiking trip to Utah—my excruciating sciatica pain came back! “It can’t be,” I agonized! “I don’t understand!”

That was about 5 years ago. Not being able to stand or walk for more than a few minutes without overwhelming pain is hard for anyone, but especially one with a type A personality!

I was not a happy camper and I didn’t respond well to this recurring issue. I wasn’t able to shake my negative attitude and found myself often in a state of discontentment and complaint. I couldn’t (rather wouldn’t) accept my circumstances.

Finally, unable to stand my misery any longer, I knew what I needed to do. I needed to stop fighting God and surrender. My prayer changed from…

“Please heal me!”

To

“Please help me to endure this pain. Use it somehow for Your glory. Don’t let me waste the pain.”

Immediately my joy and peace were restored, even though my back wasn’t!

You see, the Lord reminded me of a lesson I had learned 9 years prior when my husband’s cancer had metastasized. While grappling with that bad news and trying to accept it, God led me to ask this question,

“What would give God the greatest glory?”

Healing Ed or sustaining us with unexplainable joy and peace?”

The answer became immediately obvious—in my case, it was the latter.

So with God’s help, I surrendered and have seen God use it for His glory in many ways. The peace and joy God gave us those last 2 years before Ed went home to heaven was a huge testimony to those around us. It even led his sister to get saved!

Now the Lord was asking me to do the same thing with my recurring back issue.

We would prefer to see God display His glory by answering our prayer our way. But suppose God wants to display His glory in a different way—one that doesn’t make sense to us?

The Bible tells us we were created for His glory and pleasure.

“All who claim me as their God will come, for I have made them for my glory; I created them.” (Is 43:7)

Our main purpose in life is to demonstrate God’s glory; to make Him known to a hurting, dark world.

Therefore, when you are dealing with baffling circumstances, ask yourself the same question the Lord posed to me:

In my situation, what would bring God the most glory?

God answering our prayer for healing, removing our pain or problem–all miracles, or in doing whatever He knows is best? Which miracle would:

  • Lead more people to Christ?
  • Make us or others more like Christ?
  • Grow our faith more?
  • Show God’s love, care, or power more?

With this in mind, it’ll be easier to accept whatever God may allow. Whether it’s cancer, a recurring health issue, a wayward child, or an extreme emotional hurt, God will use it for His glory and greater purposes.

Don’t miss the blessing and stay miserable with a hard, unaccepting heart!

God could be setting Himself up to show off—to display His great power and glory to the world through you. Cooperate with Him. It’ll be worth it!

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Rev 4:11 KJV)

 

So my friends, the next time you are dealing with some difficult circumstance, ask this question:

“What would give God the greatest glory here?”

and then respond accordingly!

 

Living Bible (TLB) The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

Are You Worrying? What If the Worst Thing DID Happen?

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It was the summer of 2014. I remember as if it were yesterday—scared out of my ever-living mind! My periodontist had sent me to a specialist, who then sent me to another specialist for a biopsy of my tongue. Panic gripped me. I had lost my wonderful husband to cancer!

So my mind started running amuck. What if it is cancer? What if I need chemotherapy? What if the worst-case scenario happens? To me that wouldn’t be death (since I would be with my Savior and re-united with my soul mate), but the loss of my mouth!

I am a teacher, discipler, and speaker—not to mention a gabber. How would I serve my God without the ability to speak? I know the truth that God’s grace will be there when I need it (but not beforehand). I know the fact that most of what we worry about never comes true, but what if it does? It is a possibility, after all. How do I handle it if the worst thing does happen?

That’s when the Lord taught me this secret:

I had to decide ahead of time how was I going to respond if the worst case scenario did indeed become a reality. 

As mentioned last time, when confronted with negative circumstances we can either have a temper tantrum or accept it and comply even if we don’t understand.

I could scream, stomp my foot, be angry at the doctors and God—be and remain miserable. Or I could accept God’s will and lean on His grace which He promised would be there to help me go through it.

The best choice is obvious, but I must admit it took me awhile to reach that place of compliance. (Maybe I’m not the only one who struggles here?)

Losing my ability to speak didn’t make sense. I was sure God was leading me to speak more—to use my gift of gab for Him. Was my service for the Lord over? It couldn’t be! So, I reasoned that if the worst thing happened, I could still speak by writing my words instead. That’s when I said to the Lord, “Ok, Lord. If that’s what You have ordained, so be it! Only help me!”

Once I determined that I would surrender and accept whatever the Lord has planned, peace came. Total peace.

Now I am not saying I never worried about my tongue situation again. Of course, I had moments of anxiety. But they were short-lived since I had already decided what I was going to do. Therefore, I didn’t have to live in that state of mind. And neither do you! We just need to follow through on our commitment.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Phil 4:6-8)

 

So my friends, what are you worried about? What is the worst possible thing that could happen in your situation? Go to the Father. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you reason it out, as you come to terms with it. Then decide ahead of time to accept whatever your sovereign Lord may allow, and how you could adapt to it—knowing in your heart that your faithful God will come through with His enabling grace to get you through it.

Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
(Ps 46:10 NASB)

 

P.S. All results were negative, but what a valuable lesson learned!

 

New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.

 

 

We Can Accept God’s Will WITHOUT Understanding

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Inquiring minds want to know. In many ways I am like a cat—wanting to know and understand everything! Curiosity is good—up to a point. Just ask a cat who’s lost 8 of his 9 lives!

Although science is making new discoveries everyday, “The more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know.” Frustration, doubt, fear, or hesitancy to move forward can all be a result of a lack of comprehension. But there’s good news:

We don’t need to know and understand something in order to accept it.

I don’t understand gravity but I accept it, lest I walk off the roof of a building plummeting to my demise.

I don’t know why my wonderful husband, Ed, loved me, but I’m so glad he did! I accepted it willingly.

I don’t need to know why:

  • The sky is blue
  • I can see color
  • I can hear music

–to appreciate their beauty.

I don’t have to fully understand:

  • The Trinity
  • How Jesus was both God and man simultaneously
  • Many biblical doctrines

–to believe it as truth.

I don’t need to understand:

  • How God will work out a particular situation
  • How my faithful Lord will keep a promise
  • All the details of my future

–to step out in faith and obey.

I don’t have comprehend or like the fact that:

  • I was born to the parents I had
  • I am a widow
  • A particular person has sinned against me

–to accept it and not fight God.

And I certainly don’t need to understand Christ’s atoning work and resurrection, in order to receive His free gift of eternal life. I am so grateful for that, aren’t you?! 

I really don’t want to know and understand what Christ experienced on the cross! 

You and I don’t have to fully grasp this awesome work to get saved! It’s simply a child-like act of faith to believe and receive. God even gives us the faith to believe (Eph 2:8).

I said a minute ago that we don’t need to like something either in order to accept it. We must come to accept that God is God and we’re not. But understand this:

God is good and everything He does is good. God loves you and what He is doing is for your ultimate welfare. (see Ps 119:68; Rom 8:28)

Oftentimes though, we don’t see how a negative circumstance will work for our benefit right away. However, God wants us to live by faith, not by sight (that is, having all the knowledge and understanding we want). Instead, we can focus on what we do know for sure—that God loves us. Accepting this vital truth will help us accept things we don’t understand or like.

We have a choice…

We can kick and scream when we don’t understand something or don’t get our way—much like a child throwing a temper tantrum!

Or

We can assent to our kind, loving, and all-wise Father’s will with as little complaining as possible—or at least try!

The quicker we do that, the less disruption there is to our joy, peace, and usefulness for God’s purposes.

So my friends, go and seek knowledge, gain understanding. There is much you can know and understand about our transcendent God. The Holy Spirit will reveal to you what you need to understand and when. What you cannot grasp, accept and move ahead in faith.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Pr 3:5-6)

You can learn more about understanding God’s ways here:

God's way

THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide. 

 

Surrender Part 3: What Does “Dying to Self” mean?

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Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? (Rom 6:2)

A Living Sacrifice ~ Dead to Sin ~ Crucified with Christ

These are all difficult ideas to grasp. Yet it is a repeated theme in the New Testament and essential if we want to live God’s way. We often call it dying to self.

In this surrender series, I’ve talked about why we should, why we don’t and how to become more willing to submit. Getting our minds wrapped around these biblical terms will help us learn how to truly live by dying to self.

So what does dying to self mean?

First, understand that this is done in the spiritual realm and it’s not something we do. It is something that has already been done by Christ.

The Lord Jesus has already put our sinful nature to death when we accepted Him as our Savior. At the moment of our salvation, our old sinful nature is crucified with Christ and we are given a new nature—one like His.

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. (Gal 2:20)

 …Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Cor 5:17)

Before salvation we were slaves to sin, but now we have been set free from the controlling power of the sinful nature over us. It’s a done deal. The old nature is still present after salvation, but it has been made ineffective and inactive (Rom 6:6-7).

So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. (Rom 6:11)

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities [Satan and his demons]. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. (Col 2:13-15, emphasis mine)

We have no power to overcome sin’s hold on us. That’s God’s job, accomplished by Christ at Calvary.

Our role is to recognize that our sinful nature is dead and act accordingly.

When we “die to self,” we are choosing to live out of our new godly nature. And we will want to surrender because the will of our new nature is the same as God’s will. Through Christ we have become partakers of His nature (2 Pet 1:4).

Note, that it is our sinful nature that has been put to death—not our personality, emotions, abilities, or mind. Rather, they have been placed under new management. We are transferring the right and control of these things from the old self to God. It is His right now since He bought us with His precious blood. He owns us. We are under new management—His.

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So until next time my friends, take time to ponder these difficult-to-grasp principles. The Holy Spirit will give you understanding. Read all of Romans 6 and 7 where the Apostle Paul expounds on these freeing truths, and you too will be more equipped and willing to die to yourself and become alive unto Christ!

For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. (Rom 6:4)

 

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

 

Surrender Part 2: 7 Reasons Why We Don’t Surrender and 7 Ways to Change

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“No! You can’t make me!” the child cried.

It’s true. God won’t make us surrender. He made us with a free will. However, our way simply doesn’t work. God knows that His way is best, and He doesn’t want us to miss out on all the great rewards or suffer the consequences of a disobedient life (see last blog and Deut 28).

Be assured He will work in your life to help you see that His way is the best. (Perhaps God will use this blog to help you do just that.) 

So why don’t we surrender and walk through the door that leads to the abundant life Jesus promised?

1. We simply don’t want to submit!

We’re stubborn and prideful. We don’t like giving up control. We want to be the ones in charge. “It’s my life, isn’t it?” Not if you’re saved and bought with the precious blood of Christ!

2. We’re afraid of what God might ask us to do

That it’ll be something we don’t want to do or think we can do. 

3. We’re in bondage to some sinful habit, and Satan is working hard to keep us there

4. We don’t trust God

We don’t believe His way is the best; we think we can do a better job than God.

5. It’s just too hard or don’t know how

Perhaps you tried before and failed.

6. We are unaware of the rewards awaiting us

7. We are unaware of what’s at stake

So how can we change and become more willing?

1. Know the One to whom you are surrendering

This is biggest key in submitting to God. You are yielding to a good, powerful, loving, and all-wise God—not to a bunch of rules and regulations or to a mean selfish God.

2. Accept your position in relation to God

God is sovereign (i.e. in control) already! He is the Creator and Author of all things. Not you. God is worthy of your submission.

3. Choose to by an act of your will

Just do it! Do it to demonstrate sacrificial love to your Savior. In light of all that He has done for you it is a “rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship” (Rom 12:1 AMP).

4. Step out in faith

“Once I came to that point of surrender, God began to ignite faith in my heart–faith that He would enable me to do whatever He called me to do, in spite of my personal limitations and inadequacies.”1

5. Pray and ask God to help you

Ask God to change your heart.

Years ago when I became my mom’s caregiver I saw a time coming where she would need full-time care and I was afraid that would be me. But oh, I was not willing! And I hoped God would never ask me to do such a sacrificial thing!

Then I heard on Christian radio that in times like these we should pray, “Lord, make me willing to be willing.” So I prayed and it worked! When the time came to take my mom in to live with us, I was willing. I was able to surrender to God’s will because He had changed my heart to align with His.

6. Plug into a support system 

We need other believers to keep our commitment to the Lord when discouraged.

7. Abide in Christ, the Vine

If you stay connected to your life Source, you will have everything you need to live a godly life, which certainly includes living a yielded one. (2 Pet 1:3)

 

Until next time, my friends, as you work toward surrendering your will to your faithful Lord, you will see

It really is the better best choice!

…Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom 12:2)

 

P.S. Learn how to actually abide in Christ, the Vine from a plant’s point of view in my latest book

Read the first 3 chapters for FREE!

 

1 DeMoss, Brokenness, Surrender, Holiness p 234

Except where indicated, Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture marked AMP is taken from Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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