“You were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:8-10 NASB
If we are setting a bad example where we are, why do we tend to expect God will give us a position where we can lead others to be twice the hypocrite we are being?
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” Galatians 6:7-10 NASB
God does not often put us in the position we desire until we are being that person, living the level of integrity required for it, in the place we currently hold. You want to come up higher? Live the degree of faithful, integrity required now.
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.” Colossians 3:23-25 NASB
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” ~ Hebrews 12:1-2, NASB.
Reading this passage, the fact the Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before Him” grabs my attention, as it has grabbed me many times before. Jesus took up a cross that truly belongs to such a wretch as I, for the joy it would lead to. As I read this today, three questions come to heart for me to ponder:
1. What “joys” might have been on the heart of Jesus as He took up that cross?
2. What life challenge or sin that so easily entangles am I in that requires me to take a stand of endurance against it?
3. What joys lie before me that, fixing my eyes on them, will strengthen my endurance?
In this passage alone, I see hint of several things that may form some of the joys Jesus looked to.
1. Joy in the cloud of witnesses that would come forth because of His endurance.
2. Joy in the victory His endurance would produce in us as we overcome the cumbersome trouble this life too often holds.
3. Joy in the deliverance from sin His endurance would provide us.
4. Joy in the endurance we would possess as we set our eyes on His example to us.
5. Joy in the relationship with each of us that would come to Him and the Father because of His endurance.
6. Joy in the gift of grace available to us because He despised the shame and bore the cross in our place.
7. Joy in the fulfilling of the Father’s purpose, leading to His privileged position at God’s side.
There is much more we can add to this list of joys that had the focus of Jesus, strengthening His endurance. I don’t know about you, but there are many troubling situations and temptations to sin that I need this walk of endurance for, if I am to overcome and press through them in fulfilling God’s purpose and accomplishing His desire for me. Today, following Christ’s example, I set my sights on the joy before me that will strengthen my endurance, to the glory of His Name and the fulfilling of His purpose.
Assignment: Reading through Proverbs this month, I turn to chapter 3 and find there the call to persevere in several areas, followed by promised joy for successful endurance. Read Proverbs 3 and note there the call to stand firm. What “joy” do you see as a focus to aid endurance in the successful practice for each area of instruction? Now do this with your own life: List areas where your endurance is challenged. Next, list benefits of endurance that you can look forward to attaining as the joy set before you.
“Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God” ~ 3 John 1:11, NLT.
I don’t know about you, but I am struggling to find the candidate for the Presidency that I believe to be God’s chosen leader for such a time as this. About the time I think I found my candidate, they do or say something that sets me back to the hunt again. Crying out to God for His revelation of that person, today He instructs me to “Look at their example.”
Recently, I warned a friend to focus on the light of God rather than the darkness he is facing. We humankind have a tendency to look at all the bad and evil where, failing to find any hope there, we become confused, disoriented, and disparaging. Encouraging my friend, I cautioned him to keep eyes on God, the source of light and hope. Only there will we find help to see us through the darkness all around us.
As I consider my struggle to find a candidate to support, I realize that my eyes keep focusing on the darkness. With that, “Physician, heal thyself”, comes to mind. I realize instead of looking at the individual and sizing them up, I need to look for the character of Christ, the Light of God emanating from the person. Those who sincerely seek after and follow God, behaving in likeness to Him as His ambassador, representing His interests, are the most qualified for the job. Anyone doing less than that will fall under the weight of the position they seek to fill.
Yesterday I wrote the article on being part of the welfare of the nation by pparticipating in the freedom we have to vote for our leaders, taking full advantage of God’s provision for us in this place. Today, as I consider the difficulty I have finding God’s choice for President in this season, the thought to follow Jesus—looking at those who most exhibit His character and choose them, helps me. That narrowed the field greatly for me in several positions up for appointment. With this instruction, discouragement and frustration is replaced with hope of seeing and doing my best as one ordained to help in increasing the potential for our nation’s well-being.
Join me in looking for those candidates who are obviously in Holy Habitation with God. Look for Jesus and choose Him.
I wrote the following for my Spark page blog and thought I would share it with you here. SparkPeople is a free healthy lifestyle community I am in. If you struggle to eat right and exercise, it is an excellent site providing resource materials, tools for a successful journey, support from other members, and teams to challenge our journey forward. Whether you are young and relatively healthy, handicapped and in need of support, or older and in need of encouragement to change long held habits, their is a support system for you at http://www.sparkpeople.com. (If you join SparkPeople, tell them TRANSFORM-ABBY sent you and it will link us as friends. Then be sure to tell me who you are.)
So here is today’s blog share with you:
Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?
Scripture encourages us to Choose life. That phrase hit my heart this morning as I reread my own status, and I wondered with regard to our Spark journey, “What does that mean anyway?”
My first thoughts went to the passage itself for my answer (Deuteronomy 30). In that passage it tells us to choose life or death, good or evil, blessing or curse. So to choose life on this journey is to:
Do good toward ourselves and, in the doing, to do it for those we love as well. When we eat right, we are doing good for self. And providing good things for self generally will make that same provision available for those we love so they, too, wind up eating better. When we do good toward ourselves by moving our bods and making sure we get needed activity it is good for us, yes, but it also provides an example worth following for our children and grandchildren, and even opportunity for them, our mates and other loved ones and friends to join us. So choosing life is to choose the good by doing what is best for ourselves with that good having the potential to impact those closest to us. And doing good for self adds strength to our days so we are better able to do for others.
Choose blessing: I have a note up on my bathroom mirror that reads, “Choose the things that matter most.” Choosing blessing is to have right priorities so that we are blessed in life, enjoying the good things in it, and so we are a blessing in life, giving self and giving our best to others. The example that came to mind is to know when spending time with that grandbaby that is visiting is more important than making sure the furniture is dusted. And which is more important? A baby that feels loved and safe, or harping at them in anger over the fingerprints left for us to clean? Choose blessing by having right priorities.
There are so many thoughts in scripture to direct us in how to choose life: “set your mind and keep it set on the things above, the higher things” (Colossians 3, AMP); “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit…do not merely look out for your own personal interests” (Philippians 2); “treat others as you would like to be treated”. And Luke 6:31-33 brings me full circle as it instructs:
“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.”
Agape love loves others as we love ourselves, doing good to them, having their best interests at heart. It is not based upon a system of reward only for those we feel deserve it. It is based on who we are. And love for others begins with a love for God that knows how to love oneself, and love others in kind. If I will not do something to or toward myself because it would not be good for me, I must not do that to others. If I do good for another, but fail to do the same for myself, I have committed self-neglect. I cannot take proper care of others if I fail to meet my own needs so I have strength and energy to care for others. Thus we are right back to the point of fact that to have life abundant and full, we must do good toward ourselves and others.
Choose life, beloved, and this journey will be a true blessing that makes a life-journey worth taking.
Since yesterday’s blog post, where I shared a peak into my youth and exposed a little of myself to you, I have been thinking about graphics.
I am sure you realize, Christian brothers and sisters, that we live in a terribly graphic society. Movies and even games get increasingly realistic. The more real the graphics appear, the better these do at the box office. The news shows us real life action of the storylines of our day. And our graphic society is made most evident in the live-action footage shared on U-Tube type sites where the day’s good and evil acts are posted for all to see: from beheadings, to our grandbaby’s birthday celebrations and their cute antics, all shone in brilliant, lively color.
We are a very graphic society, except where we most need to be.
As I have considered this topic, I realize that we, the church, are too often muted. I am not just talking about being too quiet. Some of us shout well enough, but we fail to speak the language of the day. I am talking about failing to be clear and real enough to be noticed. We fail to tell people the details of our lives and how God has moved to deliver us, often out of shame, and sometimes because we believe people see enough evil in the world without seeing “mine”. I’m not talking about play by play, gory detail, but enough detail so they understand and see our experiential understanding of the world they live in and the difficulty they face. Beloved, if we cannot match the graphics of the day, not as hanging our dirty laundry out there, but showing the detail of the dirt and contrasting the work of God in delivering us from it, how will we catch the attention of those who are captivated by a very graphic world.
I have often wondered how much stuff my children might have been spared experiencing if I had been more graphic in my instructing and teaching them. It is one thing to tell them, “Save yourself for the marriage bed.” It is another still to say, “1 Here is the mistake I made. 2 Here is how it affected me. 3 This is God’s way that I learned too late. 4 You learn it now so you are spared the mistake. 5 God is faithful and gracious, and here is how He has restored me. 6 But I wish I would have had someone to tell me what I am telling you today so I could be spared the shame and regret and the struggle. 7 I am thankful that God used the struggle to reveal Himself to me in this way. He is gracious, and I am set free. Live the freedom I am teaching you today and spare yourself the need of the grace to heal the wounds of the sin and shame.”
By the way, that I just stated as example is the outline for a graphic testimony. Hang the dirty laundry with the cleaned up version right beside it. Let the contrast be used of God to catch the attention of those looking for help in a world that seems hopeless. People are asking us, “How do you know there is a God.” In a world of graphic evil, destruction, heartache, sorrow, and many whoas, they need to see very graphic proof of God’s work in us.
First Corinthians 14:6-9 fits here, brethren: “Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you SPEAKING IN AN UNKNOWN LANGUAGE, How Would That Help You? Butif I bring you a revelation or some special knowledge or prophecy or teaching,That Will Be Helpful. Even lifeless instruments like the flute or the harp must play the notes clearly, or no one will recognize the melody. And if the bugler doesn’t sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle? It’s the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space.”
Paul is talking about speaking in tongues, but the same can be applied to our too often religious speeches. We must learn to speak the language of the people so they can understand. In a graphic society, graphic truth is needed, spoken loud and clear above the roar of the world. People need to hear how we know there is a God. Shout it out above the roar, beloved, by speaking clearly and distinctly so as to be heard and understood, and be not ashamed to show graphic proof of how God has made a difference in you.
“Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” ~ 1 Peter 3:15.
Seeking to please man instead of God, our fear of being found out may well be the weapon used against us that is hindering our providing another with the graphic proof of God that will save them the trouble of sin.
“And He (Jesus) is THE RADIANCE OF HIS (FATHER’S) GLORY and the exact representation of His (Father’s) nature, and upholds all things by the word of His (Father’s) power. When He (Jesus) had made purification of sins, He (Jesus) sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (The Father), having become as much better than the angels, as He (Jesus) has inherited a more excellent name than they” ~ Hebrews 1:3-4.
This week on Living Worshipers Rally Point, we are praying this passage for the Body of Christ. It seemed good, as I considered the example we have in Jesus, to write accompanying devotionals to go along with each day’s focus. Yesterday, as I did not get back to this as planned, we looked at the radiance of the Father’s glory that is exemplified for us in Christ.
Jesus radiated the glory of God for us, so that we could see what that looks like. Thinking of that, I recall Moses in contrast. The people were afraid of Moses because of the light in his face that shined forth the glory of God found in the intimate relationship with Him that Moses possessed; so for the sake of the people, Moses covered his face. Jesus, on the other hand, let it all hang out—or shine forth, if you will. And He calls us to follow His example by doing the same.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” ~ Matthew 5:14-16.
Like a lamp, we are placed where we are in this life for the purpose of lighting up the area. The closer we walk with God, the brighter our light. We must not be ashamed to let the light out. Nor are we to cover it up so-as to make others more comfortable. That defeats the purpose of light.
“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” ~ Ephesians 5:6-10.
We are to be in direct contrast to the dark things of this world. Our light is made known by a life of goodness, righteousness, and truth. There is no truth in shrinking back so the darkness can have its way. Light dispels darkness. The very purpose of light – of glory, is to shine forth into the night.
I have night lights scattered throughout my house. When I wake too early and walk out of our room, made extra dark for sleeping, I am immediately greeted by lots of light throughout each room and across every walkway, making it easy to traverse the night. That is the job we have as His light. Dispel the dark so others may see to find The Way.
“We who first hoped in Christ [who first put our confidence in Him have been destined and appointed to] live for the praise of His glory!” ~ Ephesians 1:12, AMP.
Father, we are here to radiate Your glory: not hiding it from onlookers, but living as pleases You in all things so that others may see and know You. As we lift the Body of Christ to You today, O God, I pray that each individual one of us will follow Christ’s example and be the radiance of Your glory in the place You have placed us, no matter how dark and difficult. May we be found faithfully fulfilling our call in Your name and to Your glory. In Jesus, amen.