God’s Gives Inspiration …

So We Can Be Smarter Than the Dog

WP_000003-bOur pastor once correctly reminded us that when we are puzzling a problem or trying to deal with an issue and a sudden jolt of inspiration comes to direct us to success, that is God at work. Don’t fool yourself: every bright idea and every good thing comes from above, from the Father of Light.

Today I had just such a moment. Simple as it sounds, I decided it was time to bathe our house dogs: one, DawgBuddy Jasper, part Jack Russell, Part Chihuahua; The second, the alpha dog, Missy Roo Popcorn, a bright and intelligent Toy Fox Terrier. Buddy being easier to dry, I got everything in order then grabbed him up. Missy, eyeing me intently, I thought proceeded to follow us to the bathroom as her tinkling tags sounded behind me.

Shutting the door, I bathed Buddy, dried him, and turned him out to run. Prepared for Missy next I go to get her. She is nowhere to be found. Looking with hope that she went to her bed to hide with no such luck, I knew she was hiding under a bed somewhere and the battle of wills was on. I dreaded having to lure or drag her out from under some bed, but as I headed that way to start the challenge, inspiration struck, “Aha!”

Going to my favorite chair, I sit down, recline it, get my laptop desk and wait. It was not long until she came trottingDSCN0730b in and jumped up beside me, looking guilty and concerned as to whether she escaped the dreaded tub. I got her in my lap, loved on her a bit, and we went to the bath.

James tells us, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting…” (1:5-8).

It is wisdom God gives as inspiration for settling a problem, fixing something, taking care of a need. We awaken in the morning and ask God to give us wisdom for the path, then we go through our day led by Inspiration. We go to sleep at night, musing some difficult situation, praying for insight; waking the next morning with a sudden jolt of creative resolution that solves the problem. God is faithful to bless us with wisdom. May we be found faithful to acknowledge when he does, whether great or small, and give Him glory.

Journey to Self Control: Part 7 of 7

Self-control: The Path to Spiritual Wholeness in all things

Spirit-fruit

“[The] women likewise must be worthy of respect and serious, not gossipers, but temperate and self-controlled, [thoroughly] trustworthy in all things. …” ~ 1 Timothy 3:11; Titus 1:8; 2:4, AMP.

Our ability to live with restraint of passions in the practice of self-control touches every area of life and greatly determines whether we are people of trustworthy character. I have heard it said that if we are out of control in our diet and health practices, it will translate to other areas of life as well. Chaos breeds the chaotic. Thus a focus on self-control will translate to breed peace and victory over chaos.

As I practice self-control in this area of life, I am seeing other areas in which to apply all that I am learning. Life as a whole is improving. And I am praising my God who leads me.

“For the grace of God (His unmerited favor and blessing) has come forward and appeared to us for the deliverance from sin and the eternal salvation for all mankind. It has trained us to reject and renounce all ungodliness and worldly-passion and desires, to live discreet, temperate, self-controlled, upright, devout, and spiritually whole lives in this present world, awaiting and looking for the fulfillment, the realization of our blessed hope, even the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus” ~ Titus 2:11-13.

Living devout, spiritually whole lives in this life, what an awesome, godly goal to attain to, and as I readSpirit-fruit3 this passage, I realize that is the journey “self-control in the power of the Spirit” has me on. A devout, spiritually whole life begins with taking the step to live discreet, temperate, self-controlled lives of uprightness that grows out of the grace of God within, leading to a devout life of spiritual wholeness. As I consider living a life of love coupled with self-control, all powered and equipped by the Spirit of God, I can see how that practice of loving self-control and temperance holds in place joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness, to make one whole as a spiritual being in all areas of life.

Joy and peace come to the heart and mind of the person who, out of love for all concerned, is walking in self-control that protects from guilt, condemnation, and struggle. A self-controlled person, surrendered to God and persevering in faith, understands the need to practice patience on the journey; patience with self and patience in all things that would hinder our journey if we did not persevere with patience to overcome the struggle.

Those who are self-controlled by love’s work within are not easily led astray from acts of kindness and Spirit-fruit2goodness. Faithfulness to live lives of self-control that flows out of love produces a gentle soul who also possesses strength of character that is not always understood by those who are not on this journey as well. I realize this truth as I discover that there is not much that is able to shake my resolve as I give full focus to the Spirit-fruit of self-effort (my choosing to take needful action) empowered by the Spirit of God giving control to my fleshly soul that is beyond the natural means of mankind.

I continue to grow strong in maturity as I work toward being self-controlled in all things out of love for God, love for you, and a right love for self that chooses what is best for all I love, faithfully taking action in the power God supplies for doing so as a victor in Christ. And you are in my prayers as you, too, journey this way with me.

Journey to Self-Control: Part 6 of 7

Training the Eye

I am rejoicing today as I survey my recent journey and feel the strength flowing into my being. My diet is much improved. As suspected, setting my mind to stop the night time eating has greatly diminished the number of excess, low quality calories. The numbers on the scales drop .2 – .5 lbs. most every day. (Daily weights help me see when I have eaten something that is causing inflammation. The constant drop reveals success.) My heart and my journey are strengthened, and I am encouraged as I continue my current path for the next several weeks.

That is one thing I am learning: stay the course. Don’t add more to my proverbial plate until I am able to live with what it already holds. I could easily say, “Man, I am doing well. So let’s add such and such goal to my journey.” I have done that sooooo many times. But I am finally learning that moving forward to new foci too quickly pushes the old off my plate. By end of April, the habit should be well ingrained. Then I will pick a new focus. If I find myself ill-prepared, I will continue where I am awhile longer.

This is a slow journey for me, and I am learning that success for me is in the changes from bad habits that I make, little by little. Success truly is a journey, not a destination. Victory is in the eye of the beholder and I am training my eye to see the victory I am walking in.

I learned the importance and freedom of training my eye long ago, when I learned how to use the eye to measure my food. There is a trick I learned to use in training the eye with regard to measures. Put the portion on the serving dish to the point I believe to be the correct measure. Then measure my portion to see if I got it correct. If not, add to or take away as needed and place it back on the serving dish, letting the eye learn what that serving looks like. I still check my eye from time to time and retrain where I need; but most often I am right on.

Training our eye is important to our journey. Training to recognize the correct serving size protects from over eating when unable to measure—not to mention, setting one free from measuring cups and scales. Training them to realize success is just as vital. I am walking very successfully on this month’s journey, determined to reach my goal, and it feels good.

Self-control thought for today:

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control” ~ 2 Timothy 1:7, AMP.

This one verse pulls everything I have learned thus far about self-control together and adds to it “courage”. Self-control God is teaching me is a work of His Spirit’s power, motivated and flowing out of love that leads me to action, protected and directed by a spiritual calm that does not give way to emotional onslaught. It is well-balanced, temperate, and disciplined by a will surrendered to God. Thus we have self-control, and I am training the eye of my mind, heart and desire to realize it and walk in it.

Now I add to my journey the courage to walk it, not being timid or cowardly, falling to craven, cringing, and fawning fear. You see, I know I can be self-disciplined. I have done it many times, for short periods of time. It is staying the course that scares me. Too often I have begun strong, only to have my perseverance challenged. Falling back, I struggle again to return to self-control. So, realizing the need of courage to help me persevere in my journey to self-control in all things, I continue my journey with you.

Victory and success is in the eye of the beholder. To me, my eye says I am a victorious success on this journey to walking in Spirit-filled, self-control; and I will, by courage and steadfast determination, persevere to the finish, step by step.

Journey to Self-Control: Part 5 of 7

Restraint That Sets Free

I am seeing progress in my journey to self-control, as I continue to fill my mind and heart with determined purpose to practice walking out this fruit from within. Though the challenge at times is fierce, God is empowering my concerted effort to practice this part of His nature. Signs of success to date:

  • My mind quickly goes to the practice of self-control when challenge comes.
  • I am 8 out of 9 days victorious on my journey to stop eating after dinner, and I feel the strength and resolve to end each day strong growing within me.
  • I am averaging 6 days per week without having ice cream—as opposed to the 5-6 days per week that I was eating it. Ice cream’s draw on me is waning.
  • The sweet or processed foods I do have are greatly diminished and diminishing.
  • The scales remain down and continue to drop daily as I weigh to encourage myself and to use the tool of the scale as a measure for when I have eaten or done something to flair inflammation.
  • I am feeling better physically with greatly diminished inflammation.
  • I am getting in over 3000 low-end, lazy-day steps per day, despite the limitations my foot injury is bringing to the table. I have 2 days over 5000 before I decided the cardio walking was causing harm and hindering healing. So I am getting up several times per day to get 300-500 steps in at a time until goal is met or exceded. By end of day my foot is making it known that enough is enough, but I am being disciplined and deliberate in my resolve while being wise in my limitations.
  • My alertness to God’s presence with me on this journey has already doubled.
  • Hope for victory is reviving.

As with previous months of focus this year, the challenge now is to persevere and end with the strength I began in. In an effort to do that, I felt led to find scripture that specifically address the issue of self-control and will end each blog with one and what it says to me for my current emphasis.

“But if they have not self-control (restraint of their passions), they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame [with passion and tortured continually with ungratified desire]” ~ 1 Corinthians 7:9, AMP.

Boy, do I see the truth of this in my love affair with sweets. Here is what it looks like in me:

I see or think of or hear about some favored sweet delicacy. My passion for its delectable flavor and texture makes my mouth water. Despite efforts to push it out of mind, ungratified desire burns within me as it batters the door to my mind and appetite. Suddenly, often with unfettered passion, I run into its waiting arms.

One thing I have rediscovered in this week of focus on self-control is the need to take every thought captive, denying my mind the privilege of holding the thought of some sweet passion. Now I am not completely sweets free: but what I have resolved is that any sweet allowed will be home made, eaten with control, and only eaten immediately following a meal. My understanding—and experience is that eating a lower quality carb with protein and a high quality carb will curb the desire, and the body goes for the higher quality first. If passion still flares, I sit on my hands and put my mind on other things. Before I know it, the desire is gone, and I carry on.

Joyce Meyer is correct in her saying that the battlefield is truly in the mind; and I would add, in the passions. Thus, taking every thought captive for any ungodly passion I face, I restrain my passions, so that I may walk free from bondage to them and the things that inflame them. Each step of victory in this challenge increases hope to me that I will one day have more passion for the victory of obedience and the presence and pleasure of God than I have for the taste of the delectable; and that the joyful flavor of the pleasure of God will make the taste of the sweet abhorrent. As I typed that last statement, hope and joy at the thought of such freedom soared within my soul. I know that by God’s grace, I will get there if I faint not in the way of self-control.

Now, for you here, I thought that I was finished with the sharing of my SparkBlogs on this subject of self-contro and the restraining of passions. But it seems that there is at least one more to come. BLESSings to you on your journey. Thanks for reading my blogs and praying for my victory. Back here with you tomorrow.

Journey to Self-Control: Part 4 of 7

To Self-Control, add: My journey continues!

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love” ~ 2 Peter 1:5-7.

“Now for this reason”…What reason? Verse four answers my query, telling me that because I am among those who are recipients of the promises of God, I am, by His promises, to apply the following so that I can “become a partaker of the divine nature.”

There it is. I am on this Spark Journey for the purpose of experiencing God. And I am to experience Him as I walk with Him to develop within me the fruit of His Spirit found in the practice of self-control. This passage God led me to adds understanding to my path.

To DILIGENCE, in faith—faith in what? God and His promises.

God's Promise2

Practicing diligence with faith in God and His promises, I am to supply moral excellence—the immoral man sins against his own flesh (1 Cor. 6:18). I must realize the importance of this journey anew as I recognize my body as the very temple of Holy God, and be deliberate in behaving in ways that are beneficial to the health and well-being of God’s abode.

To moral excellence I add knowledge. That means I must study to be approved so I know what I am doing on this journey.

To knowledge I must add—and there it is—self-control: my deliberate effort to do the good empowered by God.

To self-control is added perseverance. God does not always change us in an instant. More often than not, He does His work here a little, there a little. To become discouraged is to fall away. If I truly want this, it will require me to persevere.

Persevere3Through this cycle we find godliness—His nature, alive, well and working within, which produces brotherly kindness, and well-springs with Love—God is love.

After God started speaking to me, reminding me of this lesson learned long ago, my self-control bounced off the wall of exhaustion and fell into a bowl of ice cream about two hours after dinner last night, breaking my “No ice cream” streak and my “Stop eating after dinner” streak. Because of God reminding me that to self-control we add perseverance, I did not fall to discouragement, but was immediately able to get back up, dust off, and carry on. As the result of not falling into a binge, but immediately getting back on track, the scales were up only two tenths of a pound this morning. Today has been strong again.

Two words that stand out to me for adding to my practice of self-control:

  • Perseverance – Steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose; steadfastness.
  • Diligence – Earnest and persistent application to an undertaking; steady effort; assiduity (??). Attentive care; heedfulness.Persevere6
    • Assiduity – Persistent application or diligence; unflagging effort. Constant personal attention and often obsequious solicitude (??). Devoted attention.
    • Obsequious solicitude – essentially “as a servant seeking the aid of her Master.”

Thus, my journey continues as I determine to be diligent in my efforts to persevere, not raising the white flag of surrender in my journey to have victory in the area of self-control, but by the power of the Master to whom I cry out as the supply needed to win the goal, I stand firm and press forward.

(One more blog point to follow and our journey to self-control is finished…for now 😉

The Journey to Self-Control: Part 3 of 7

To Walk In His Presence

“… And so, since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or approve of Him or consider Him worth the knowing, God gave them over to a base and condemned mind to do things not proper or decent but loathsome” ~ Romans 1:11-12, 28, AB.

Wow. Struggling with sin, giving oneself over to it, is a sign of lack of interest in KNOWING God on a personal and intimate level. Ugh. That thought and understanding is deep and it strikes me to the heart of the issue. My absolute surrender to laziness and lack of self-control on this journey stems from inadequate desire to do the very things that God has inspired in me as of utmost importance: a goal to be reached—that I may know Him (Philippians 3:8-11, see yesterday’s blog).

This struggle truly strikes a defeating blow to the second of my life goal scriptures I am to apply to this journey of experiencing the greater depths of God on my Spark Journey: that is to know His presence with me. My second life goal passage is found in Acts 2:25-28, where the words of David are quoted, describing to us his life-practice that led him to one victory after another. In this passage, David is credited as having said:

“I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope; because You will not abandon my soul to hades, nor allow Your holy one to undergo decay. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of gladness with your presence.”

I seek daily to know and walk in the presence of God Almighty, being directed and empowered by Him; yet daily my fall to lack of the practice of the fruit of self-control hinders the fullness of this experience.

In the last post, I mentioned the analogy I was taught long ago of picturing the Spirit-fruit flavors of love and self-control as bookends to all the rest. If one of these bookends is broken and dysfunctional, all the rest fall to the wayside.

falling-books-bookends.pngAs I looked for a picture to show the books falling because of failing bookends (I think this one is way cute and very depictive of this thought)…anyway, while finding the picture above, I saw bookends that were made as one unit and it hit me: because of God’s love in me equipping me to not only love others as He does, but to love Him and to love self, I practice self-control in all things so that I may know Him more and have a stronger love relationship with Him.

The two ends must become one unit: love combined as one with self-control to facilitate strength of structure that holds all else securely in place. When that occurs, it translates into a stronger love-walk that is exhibited through joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and yes, self-control that loves me enough to maintain a life that loves God and His ways first of all, and that, because of love, lives an exemplary life that encourages and helps others out of love. Love and self-control not only are the bookends to hold all the rest in place and in proper order, but they are connected to each other, one unable to function properly without the power and influence of the other.

Without self-control, how can I experience to the full the presence of God, Who IS Love.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” ~ 1 John 4:7-8.

Because I have not loved fully as God loves: loving Him of first importance, then you as I love myself, my self-control has fallen, broken away from that which gives it strength. I pray to see that changed from here on out. Already, as I deliberately focus to practice the Spiritual fruit of self-control—applying my purposed effort with faith in God’s equipping for victory—I am feeling strengthened, experiencing His pleasure and His presence, and reaping the reward as I see the numbers on the scale drop again.

“For I am yearning to see you, that I may impart and share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen and establish you; that is, that we may be mutually strengthened and encouraged and comforted by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” ~ Romans 1:11-12, AB.

We can do it as, through faith, we walk together in love with self-control to bear all the fruit of the Spirit to the glory of God in our victorious lifestyle.

(To be continued)

The Journey to Self-Control: Part 2 of 7

Continuing to share my SparkPeople journey to self-control:

Feeling Good About Me in the True Victory!

SparkPeople community moderator Denise says: “Don’t let the scale tell you how to feel about yourself!”

As I sought the Lord about where to begin on my journey to experience Him through my journey to improved health, He pointed me to the flavor of “Self-Control” found in the fruit of the Spirit’s produce in us. I know that flavor is a vital bookend to the fruit of the Spirit, Love holding things together on the one end, and Self-Control on the other, but that is the flavor of the fruit of God’s presence that least enters my mind when I seek His flow in the day. Yet it is there, a bookend to all the others, signaling me to the need of my deliberate effort in surrendering myself to His controlling power of life if I truly want His Spirit flow.

So I began, and as I prayed to discover a starting place for my journey to experiencing Him through self-control, He led me to start anew the goal to eat nothing after dinner unless it is something lite and healthy in response to true hunger. I made it through last night, day 1 on this renewed journey to the goal of overcoming night time eating, and it showed on the scales in a big way this morning.

Now I know that extreme changes in diet—and this is a biggy for me—will result in water weight loss, so I am not letting that loss determine how I feel about myself in this victory. It is not the scales that are the true success, but the success in standing firm in faith to practice self-control, calling on the Lord for strength as my husband had his snack, and seeing success in staying the course and winning the day. That is cause for rejoicing: increasing my nature of self-control as a faithful, faith-filled child of God.

On this journey to discover how I can experience God through my weight loss and lifestyle change efforts, I promised to look at two of my life goal verses, sensing there is wisdom to be gleaned there. The first is found in the Amplified version of Philippians 3:8-11.

“Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege, the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly. …

“For my determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection which it exerts over believers, and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed in spirit into His likeness, even to His death, in the hope that if possible I may attain to the spiritual and moral resurrection that lifts me out from among the dead even while in the body.”

Self-control means to die to something, denying self in order to enter into the controlling power of God’s Spirit, bearing the fruit of life in the earth. As I learn to walk in the power of dying to self, I experience more of Him through His power that resurrects true life in me.

Wow! To God be the glory. I think I will mull on that one for a while. See you back here in my next post.

The Journey to Self-Control: Part 1 of 7

Sensing God’s leading to share my current SparkPeople journey with you here, I will be copying a current blog series from my Spark to these pages here until the season of instruction ends. I hope that some here will be helped with their walk of faith in God in some area of your life.

Blog #1: Founded and Built to Last

SparkPeople’s Coach Nicole says: “Every day is another chance to turn things around.”

Two of my teams are studying the book, Made to Crave. In chapter 5, the thing that struck me and brought a gasp of inspiration to my heart was the thought that not only does God want to be a part of our journey, even in the things that seem mundane to us, like our dietary struggles, and not only does He desire all that we do—even this journey—to be done for Him and His glory, but He wants this journey to be another avenue in life whereby we experience Him and His presence and personal desire for relationship with “me”. That is awesome to me, again! So as I think about today being a day of second chances, I begin a journey of considering what this thought in chapter 5 of Lysa Terkeurst’s Made to Crave means to and for me.

In future posts on this subject, I will be looking at some of my life verses that fit this thought, making the connection between them, the experience of God, and how to deliberately bring that to my Spark Journey. For now, in my scripture reading this morning, the following passage really struck me as the place to begin as I consider how to bring the experience of a stronger relationship and walk with God into my Spark.

“According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. IF ANY MAN’S WORK IS BURNED UP, HE WILL SUFFER LOSS; BUT HE HIMSELF WILL BE SAVED, YET SO AS THROUGH FIRE.

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are. Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise”  ~ 1 Corinthians 3:10-18.

I am wowed as I realize anew the connection of this call to recognize our body as the Holy temple of God and its introduction following on the heels of how we build on a foundation. Our care of our body is not unimportant to God. It is vital to our relationship with Him as we realize we are His temple, and we are building on and maintaining His residence. And what does this passage tell us that fits with our walking this journey with realization that we are in company with God Almighty as we travel this path?

The first thing I note that I must realize is important to God and vital to my experiencing Him in this journey is, “no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” There are foundations to every work that must be laid, and when that foundation is cemented in Christ, it will withstand every quaking challenge to its stability. The foundation of my healthy lifestyle is vital, and Jesus—God with us (Immanuel), God incarnate, the One through home salvation comes—Jesus must be the cornerstone.

The thing that came to heart right off as I consider this is the realization that all that I do is to be done in ways that honor Him as Lord and bring glory to His name. So seeking Him before I bite, making Him part of my dietary and exercise regimen, seeking His appetites and His instruction for activity is vital to my ability to experience Him in this journey; and vital to my ability to do that with greater realization is for me to understand that this journey is as important to Him as my relationship with Him and my Kingdom experience. He must be the foundation, and His teachings can direct me to firm up the foundation of my journey to health and a healthy lifestyle as a part of my Kingdom journey.

The second thing I note is the material I use to build my healthy lifestyle is vital to building a healthy body with lasting results that will not burn up and fall apart when touched by the fires of life’s challenges. I will know God’s presence and work with me in this journey as I begin to seek Him to help me discern the gold, silver, and jewels that I need to use to replace all wood, hay and stubble in my current practices. To see the better choices set before me as God’s gold, silver, and jewels, and to choose them over the wood, hay and stubble that may seem easier, quicker, and more appealing enlivens my journey, seeing God at the core of every decision for healthier living. Any decision I face, I need to look at with a view of discerning which is the jewel in the hand of God; and the greatest building material of all is my attitude and motive in the decision made. By lining my attitude and motive for this journey and its choices up with God’s, I experience Him on the path to health and well-being.

Thus begins my journey to experience God in this journey, taking it from the mundane must do, to the glory of the eternal path walked deliberately hand in hand with the Father.

I am looking for a new body of health and strength which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.