Continuing in Sin
Many people call themselves "Christians." But are they? What does "Christian" really mean anyway? The term means to believe in Jesus. So maybe, the people who call themselves that, really do believe in Jesus. Believe that He existed. But is that what the Bible calls us to? To just believe that He existed? The Bible calls us to much more than that. It calls us to believe not only that He existed, but also that He died to pay the penalty for our sin, that he resurrected 3 days later and is now STILL REIGNING in heaven, sitting at the right hand of God the Father. After His death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit (the 3rd part of the Trinity: God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Spirit of God) abides in every person who believes in this and lives a life of repentance that leads to holiness and righteousness. Verse 24 of 1 John 3 says, "...And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us." Okay, so you say you believe in Jesus. James 2:19 says, "Even the demons believe- and shudder!" Believing that He existed or even exists isn't enough. Has the Spirit been given to you? This is not a question that you might know the answer to. It's a question that you have to be absolute certain about. If you have received the Spirit, you will know. This spirit is the one who purifies us from the inside out- molding us to be more like Jesus. If your life shows no evidence of Jesus, I would question whether you truly have given your life to Him. If you aren't sure, then I am certain that you haven't. Make this decision today. (RECEIVING CHRIST) When you are a true follower of Jesus, you align yourself with Him- through Scripture and through conviction of the Holy Spirit. This requires obedience to His Word (the Bible) and to repentance of the sin revealed in you. 1 John 3:4 says, "No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him." This is a great verse to test your "belief". Are you repeating sin after sin that you know is wrong in the Bible? Are you not turning away from it and trying to live a life of holiness? If this is you, then you have neither seen Him or known Him. Some of you are grumbling right now. That's okay- this is the truth, and unless you want to inherit eternal death rather than life, then keep grumbling. If you didn't realize the severity of your sin and honestly want to follow Jesus, then please humbly ask Jesus to forgive you. This doesn't mean though, that tomorrow you keep living as you were- but that you begin your life in repentance- turning away from sin and toward Jesus. The Holy Spirit will come and abide in you and will begin Divine transformation. What great news! When you truly love Jesus and follow Him, the world will hate you, because it hates Jesus. So, "Do not be surprised-" as verse 13 says. The great thing is, we don't have to live by their approval anymore, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31) We have a great God of grace, mercy, love and power on our side and even when we mess up, God in His mercy will forgive us and restore us. Please email me if you have any questions, or if you are challenged by this. I would love to pray for you and even get you connected to a local, Jesus following, Bible practicing church.
In His Footsteps
Jesus leaves big shoes to fill. But verse 6 says that, "Whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked." How can we walk like Jesus did? I think the best thing to do would be to study how He lived while on earth. I can say without in depth study that He walked with authority and confidence in God's love for Him, He walked in humility by putting others' needs before His own, and by serving and loving others. Is it possible to walk as He walked on earth? Have you ever been blessed to have someone say, "I see Jesus in you..?" It's because you are walking as Jesus did! That is probably the biggest compliment one could have, since our aim in life is to glorify Him in what we do, say and think. Being a good example of Jesus is exactly what working out your salvation means. The Holy Spirit is constantly perfecting us to be more like Him so that on the day of the Lord's return, we can be spotless and without blemish. What does this mean- especially since no one is perfect but Jesus? Being spotless and without blemish isn't being without sin- although God, because of our sin paid for on the cross by Jesus, sees us without sin when we live out repentance. But Job- even when God allowed everything to be taken from him- his fortunes and his family- he still trusted God. He did not lose his trust and love for God because of his circumstances. Instead, he worshipped God despite his circumstances. When things get tough, do you lose your faith in God? Jesus, when carrying His own cross to be crucified did not abandon His trust in His Father, but rather surrendered the circumstance to Him. There are many people in the Bible that we can relate to and learn from- but Jesus is the perfect example. How are you walking as He did? Do you serve others? Do you teach others about Him? Do you completely trust in what the Father is doing- despite your circumstance? Although Jesus was God, while He walked the earth he was also fully man. He trusted what the Father was doing- even when He was walking to His own death. He washed other people's feet as an act of service and humility and He taught people about Himself. Are you walking as He did?
Jesus while on earth, did not associate Himself with the world, or it's desires. Never once did He accumulate a lot of possessions, for He knew His purpose and He didn't allow anything to get in the way of it. Jesus was tempted just as we were. Yet, He didn't get caught up in worldly passions or desires. Walking as Jesus walked also means to not let the world and anything in it become your master. If you love the world, it's passions and it's possessions, you become it's slave. Everything you do, work for and live for will be for the world. Your desires will control your decisions, and you will eventually protect your possessions- since you worked so hard to get them. Jesus wants us to love Him so much, that we allow Him to control our lives. We cannot serve the world and Jesus. It's one or the other. Jesus gives us the desires of our hearts when we abide in Him. (Psalm 37:4) The thing is, when we abide in Him, our desires are not of this world. Of course, there are "things" we like- as you've heard in my other blogs...shoes, jewelry, clothes, etc., but Jesus knows that they don't bring us true contentment or even happiness. When you abide in Him, He gives us desires of our hearts that are so much more fulfilling. Sometimes the desires of our hearts- to us are unknown, until Jesus brings them before us. Everything in this world is passing away, but the heavenly treasures will last forever.
I want to have confidence and not shame the day I meet Jesus. I don't want the attitude of, "I'm not ready to change this or that yet", because if Jesus comes back tomorrow, I want Him to say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" Let your attitude align with His Word, let all you do align with Him. Abide fully in Him, and He will abide fully in you.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
The Day of the Lord
Oh, the day Jesus returns will one great day! I honestly look forward to that day, and so should you if you love and follow Jesus. Some of you, like me 3 years ago- might like your life on earth too much, that you hope Jesus doesn't come back in your life time, so you can get done all the things on your "bucket list". Really? You would rather go sky-diving, meet your favorite star, travel the world- whatever your dream is- instead of be in heaven with Jesus? Maybe you don't realize that HEAVEN WILL BE SO MUCH BETTER THAN ANYTHING ON THIS EARTH! I know it can be hard to fathom- since we have a puny little human mind in comparison to the Almighty God. Think of all the countries that you want to visit because of their beauty- yes, heaven will be a much nicer place. We're not comparing apples to apples here. We aren't even comparing one fruit to another. Earth and Heaven cannot even be compared. It's going to be so great- meeting Jesus- that I hope everyone I know comes to know Him before they die. Verse 9 says that God wishes "not any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." Notice the word used: Repentance. (RECEIVING CHRIST) Have you been praying for someone you know to receive Christ? Keep praying fervently!
Although our salvation is not based on works, "the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed." Peter continues to say since this is so, "What sort of people ought you be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God..." God isn't going to say to you, "Wow, look at how high up in the company you are." Or, "Oh my, look at your bank account!" He might say on the other hand, "You spent so much time serving in the office, that you didn't have enough time to serve me." Or, "What good is your bank account now that you are dead? You could have used it for eternal purposes, rather than storing it up for yourself!" (Matthew 6:19-21) You can honor God with your job and your money, as long as you don't seek after them more than you seek after God- then it becomes idolatry. And Jesus says in Matthew 6, " You cannot serve God and money."
How can you be working toward holiness and godliness so that on the day of the Lord, you can be without spot or blemish and at peace?
A Dog & It's Vomit
Then it drags me, and I follow
This is the chorus of a song I wrote about my past pornography addiction. But it can be identified with any addiction or anything that consumes you. As I have shared in previous blogs, I tend to be consumed by things. Let's take online shopping for a current example. (sigh.) So I am Facebook and see an ad for something that entices my desire. So I click on it (drags me and I follow). It's on sale- of course (it delivers) so I put it in my online cart and buy it (and I let it). I use my debit card- or if it's you, maybe a credit card- and complete the purchase. After I click the mouse to complete the order, a heaviness weighs down and in my heart- not my mind- I realize I spent money on something that was foolish. (then it haunts me and I darken). I try to call the 1-800 number to cancel the order, but the lady says I can't cancel the order, but will have to return the item without free return shipping. I get mad. (spiral down) Except it's not her problem, it's mine (covered in shame). The bad thing is, this just happened last month. (Filthy, dirty is repetive sin) I ask Jesus for forgiveness for not stewarding my money wisely (repent), and I delete that online store from my online bookmarks (turn away) but the following month, I see another sale....(yet it comes back for more).
Now I know I stretched it a bit, but in reality this may be true for some. Like me. I don't consider the action of buying online repeatedly, filthy or dirty like I would view looking at porn- but if we continue in sin, and intentionally repeat our sin after we have asked Jesus for forgiveness, it is filthy, just like a "dog returns to its own vomit."
Your repetitive sin may seem not as bad, or a lot worse. I'm sure many of you don't see severity of online shopping in your life, like I do mine. Everyone's got their stuff. And if you think you don't, you're only kidding yourself.
Verse 19 says, "...For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved." I was enslaved to porn at one time because it overcame me. There isn't a better word for it. Whatever your addiction- it is enslaving you. Whatever is consuming you- it is enslaving you. Don't be like a dog that returns to its vomit- get rid of the addiction. Get rid of that which consumes you. Yes, quitting online shopping is extreme, but I am getting rid of that which consumes me. What do you need to get rid of?
Pursuit of Holiness
Sometimes in our walk with Jesus, we feel we become stagnant. Could it be that we stop practicing the qualities listed in this chapter (virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love)? In verse 8, it says that if you practice these qualities and continue to grow in the them, that they will keep you from being unproductive and unfruitful. Feeling in a desert place? Feeling like you aren't moving forward? Feel "unproductive and unfruitful"? Start applying these qualities in your life. Ask the Spirit to make these known to you and to help you put these into practice.
To lose your salvation or to not to lose it, that is not the question today. However verse 10 says this: "...Be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure..." Regardless of what opinion you stand behind, you can embrace this verse. I don't know about you, but I want to KNOW where I am going and WHO I belong to. I don't want to question that. Therefore, I know that I am saved because of my dedication and love for Jesus. I have accepted His forgiveness and I live a repentive life. This means, that I intentionally run away from sin and when I find myself in the middle of it, I choose leave it and walk closer to Jesus. I choose to obey the Word of God in every way I can and know how and when the Holy Spirit reveals sin in my life, I get rid of it. Sometimes it takes a few times of the Spirit showing me before I submit- sometimes it's something that seems a little extreme. But when the Spirit prompts me to obey, it's for His glory and my best. Even if it's not printed matter-of-factly in the Bible, doesn't mean it's not from God. The Lord has told me numerous things to give up that weren't written in the Bible per se. Some examples are: coloring my hair, drinking, birth control, getting my nails done, wearing too much makeup, wanting my house to look nice with things, control of finances, control in our home- submitting to Joey, and the latest one (that I'm still wrestling with) is online shopping. As I said, some of these things are not specifically written in the Bible- God does not say, "Do not shop online". But he showed me that for me, it becomes idolatry. I spend too much time searching for something, then find out I have to spend ten dollars more for free shipping- which means I spend longer online trying to find that ten dollar item! Sounds stupid to some of you, I know. But for me, this is a real struggle! How far are you willing to go for the sake of godliness? I believe this is "working out your salvation" (Philippians 2:!2). I am not the judge of who is saved and who is not- but there are verses in the Bible that make me want to be sure I am intentionally obeying Jesus. Of course, your salvation is not based on your works (Ephesians 2:8-9) but if your faith is genuine, then obedience and works are a result of your relationship with Jesus. Verse 10 was after Peter exhorted us to supplement our faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love. Peter gave us these qualities saying,"For if you practice these qualities you will never fall." I don't want to fall, and part of that is obeying Jesus. When Jesus asked the disciples to follow Him, they left everything they had and knew to follow Him. I want to be willing to do the same.
Shepherds, Wolves & Lions
I think it's amazing how the Bible uses the title "shepherd" for elders in this passage, because it's also used for Jesus in other areas of Scripture, and it is done intentionally. Within a body of believers, there are sheep, wolves and shepherds, with the chief shepherd being Jesus. Elders are appointed in a church to be shepherds of the flock, following closely to the Chief Shepherd. They are to guide the body and protect them from wolves. There are wolves in the world, and sadly, even found in the church. These people are looking to manipulate, hurt and lead others astray. A role of an elder, is to protect the sheep from these people, to pray for the flock, and lead the flock in a godly direction, building the flock up in the glory of God. Just like the devil is prowling around looking for someone to devour, so are wolves. Thank you to those who sacrifice their time and energy to be elders, to watch over and protect the sheep.
What does it mean to humble yourselves under God? I believe it means to surrender yourself completely. This takes humility. It means laying down our pride, our dreams, our control- and giving ourselves entirely to God. When we do this, we allow Him to work in us. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Luke 18:14 says: "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." James 4:10 says: "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you." There has to be something said about humility.
If we stay proud, or continue to try and control our lives, God will sit by and watch, wishing you would just humble yourself before Him, so that instead of you steering your life in the wrong direction, He can steer your life in the best direction. You say, my life is going fine and I am not going in the wrong direction, I live a good life, and I am happy. Well, I am glad that you are happy. But, without God, you are might be steering your life in a good direction... but don't you want the best? We don't know everything. If you think you do, you are wrong. We can't see into the future. We don't know how every decision we make will turn out. But God does. That is why it is best to surrender your life- in it's entirety to Him, so that He can guide you into decisions, steering you- not a good direction, but the best direction. Are you humbled under God's mighty hand? Notice it doesn't just say hand. It says MIGHTY hand! Or are you trying to live in your own control?
Oh yes then there's the lion. "Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." I love this illustration but yikes! I do not want to be the one he devours! How can we protect ourselves from him? Stand firm in your faith- arming yourself with the armor of God. Ephesians 6:10-18:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand inthe evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
In the animal kingdom, does a lion tend to go after strong prey or weak prey? The weak prey- because they are easier to attack. By arming yourself against your enemy, you make yourself a stronger prey- making it harder for your predator to "devour" you. When you, as a believer, choose to sin, you give the devil a foothold. To give the devil a foothold, in the animal illustration, would mean you have just broken a leg, making it easier for the lion to attack. I challenge you to stand firm in your faith, guard yourself with the armor of God and do not become an easy victim for the lion. Remember, he "prowls around looking for someone to devour". He is looking, waiting for a weak moment. No matter what challenge, temptation or trial comes your way- stand firm, and call out to Jesus. He is your Chief Shepherd remember, and He not only protects you from the wolves, but also from the lion. Are you going to be easy prey??
Sin is fun for those walking in sin, but for those who are not, we have a different view of fun. Have you ever been made fun of because you didn't join in on the sinful fun- whether it be gossip, slander, drunkenness, theft...whatever? I can recall a number of times.
There are many unbelievers and I'm sure some who call themselves believers who find fun in getting drunk. That was me 5 years ago. But with drunkenness, comes foolish decisions. Trust me, I have made many in my drunken past. I don't even understand, at all, how I thought this was fun 5 years ago. Yeah, maybe in the moment, there is laughter- but it comes from a false sense of happiness. Drunkenness brings on temporary happiness, because of what the alcohol physically does to you. Even if you don't get wasted, the mere "buzzed" is a false sense in happiness too. You enlighten yourself with alcohol. I would much rather enlighten myself with the Spirit. There is no waking up with a dreadful hangover- instead I wake up and see better ! When filled with alcohol, you think you can do things that are impossible, only to hurt yourself or others in the process- when filled with the Spirit, you can do things that are impossible, because through God, all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)
This text also talks about those who walk with Jesus have been given a gift- one we should use to serve one another. This gift could be a number of things, but here are a few examples:
Are you using the gift(s) God has created in you for His purpose? Over time, you might see changes in your gifts, you might see new ones added, like me, you might need to learn how to harnness or cultivate your gift. If you don't know what God has gifted you with, ask Him, ask close friends and family. Many times other people can see a gifting in you that you didn't even know was there!
I would love if you left a one or two word response to this blog with what God has gifted you with. If you want to remain anonymous, just put "anonymous" as your name :) Let's see the variety of gifts that God has gifted each one of us with! If you don't understand or don't think you have been given a specific gift, I encourage you to ask yourself if you are in a relationship with Jesus. If this is something you want to know more about, please read: Receiving Christ.
Oh how hard it was to "be subject" to my husband when I was first convicted of it. I liked control. I liked being the spiritual leader of the home. I liked being in charge of the finances. I liked making decisions. I liked not having to answer to anybody.
That changed about a year ago, and our marriage is so much better. We felt conviction to change the way we were running our home. My husband let me lead for the sake of arguements (my control issues) and I liked leading (my control issues). Also, Joey wasn't spiritually overflowing, so it was challenging for him to lead us. However, when the Lord spoke to us, we both submitted, and my husband has grown so much in the Lord since. No longer do I lead this family- but he does, and a great job at that. No longer do I control this family- by God's guidance and wisdom given, Joey does. No longer am I the spiritual leader- he is and he challenges and encourages me in my faith now! No longer am I in charge of our finances- and he is doing a much better job than I did- money isn't being lost in spending foolishly. No longer am I making the decisions- although I have much to contribute, Joey makes the final decisions. No longer do I have nobody to answer to- although I was fooled into thinking that I didn't have God to answer to. Not that I "answer" to Joey, but he holds me accountable to my growth in Christ and challenges me when I am struggling. I actually like having him to "answer to", I have grown a ton more in Jesus. It's helpful having a husband who constantly challenges me in holiness and who builds me up as a godly woman. This is how God designed marriage to be. If you try to do it any other way, it is not God's best, and it won't be your best. Do you feel like you are always arguing with your spouse? Do you feel like there is always tension? Check your relationship and test it with this Scripture. If you are following this guideline, I can guarantee your marriage will be so much better. By doing this, you are being submissive to God and His plan. Being submissive doesn't mean being a doormat. But it does mean stepping down from the platform and letting the husband lead the family. This means, wives, praying for your husbands in this role. Just as Joey found it challenging at first to take the lead, it may also be that for your husband. This doesn't mean you need to step up again, but continue to be humble and under his authority. Husbands, it might be easier to love your wife like Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for it, if you try to live in an "understanding way" and acknowledge that your wife is the weaker vessel. She needs prayer too- especially if she is at all like me and has control issues. You can't force her to change, but the Holy Spirit can do miracles- let me tell you!! So, pray for her! Take your role as the leader in the home very seriously, your job is not to control her, but lead her- in doing so, you "might sanctify her" that "she might be holy and without blemish". (Ephesians 5:22-33). Which role are you in and which role should be in?
As I have shared many times about my "adorning issues", this chapter refers to it again, and I would like to challenge you to analyze yourself concerning this, just as I have. What is the significance of what is mentioned: braiding of the hair, gold jewelry, the clothing you put on? I don't think God is specifically referring to having braided hair, wearing gold or wearing clothes. I am pretty sure that God wants you to wear clothes- if you disagree and have Scripture to back it up- please, email me! Again, I ask, what are the significances of these things mentioned? How do you think we can apply it today? I am being challenged on this in this season of my life. I never knew it to be a problem. Not that it is a problem now, but I definitely can take steps so that it doesn't become a problem. I find it fascinating (and difficult at times) how deep holiness goes. The closer I get to Jesus, the deeper the more complex holiness becomes, yet it's simple at the same time. It's not a matter of trying to look holy, but rather- allowing the Holy Spirit to cleanse you from the inside out. I encourage you to obey the Spirit at all times, even if it seems extreme. One of my extreme obediences to the Lord, was not to color my hair anymore, this was about 2 years ago. Did I tell you I used to be a hairstylist???? Yeah, this was challenging for me. But the issue wasn't that I colored my hair- coloring your hair is not a sin. The issue was much deeper than that, it was my heart. Even though I took physical measures to obey, the Holy Spirit was working on spiritual measures. Even though the change was seen on the outside, a change was also seen on the inside. I believe not coloring my hair was the first step in a project the Spirit is still doing work on.
How are you "adorned"? Do you care more about what you look on the outside than what you do on the inside? Do you put more time into getting physically ready for the day than your do preparing yourself spiritually for the day? Is the Spirit tugging at your heart about something specific? How are you going to respond?
I'm an Alien!
I am a sojourner and exiler!
Some of you may know that I am Canadian. I said it, I am not American. I am a "permanent resident" and I have a green card. Another name the government would call me is an alien. On my green card is an alien number- a number assigned to me. An alien??? I know I'm weird- but an alien? C'mon, that's harsh! Okay, I know I'm not funny... Anyway, living in the USA, I am considered an alien, because this is not my homeland. My homeland is Canada. In the Bible, believers are referred to as aliens, sojourners and exiles of the earth because this earth is not our home. Heaven is. How great it is! We can look around and see the filth around us; we see evil, broken families, a government in loads of debt, catastrophes in abundance, war, murder, adultery- and we can say, "We don't belong here." Since I live in USA through marriage, people often ask me why I haven't obtained my citizenship here. To be honest, I'm proud to be Canadian. And as long as I don't have to obtain citizenship, I won't- sorry! There are people that don't understand and even try to convince me that I should. The same is true spiritually. People of the world don't understand that we don't belong here, except that there's something different about us. And whether it's people, things, or desires of the flesh, they try to convince you to make earth your home. It's no wonder passions of the world wage war against our soul. The passions are fighting to make us feel comfortable here,to make this your home- but we are not supposed to get comfortable here! Verse 11: "Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul." The passions that Peter is talking about here aren't godly things like Bible study, church, fellowship, family time, etc., that would be passions of the soul. No, he is talking about passions of the flesh- things that WAR against your soul- things that are trying to steal your soul from where it's going! The evil one and your fleshly nature, lure your soul everyday by the desires of the world- is your soul being won over by them? It's so easy to get caught up in the worldly things, especially if you belong to it. But those of us who know that our home is in heaven should constantly remind ourselves that this is just a temporary place. Tom Kelby, pastor at Cornerstone Church in Spooner WI said this once: "If you were visiting somewhere for an extended period of time and were staying in a hotel for the time, would you go around changing the pictures hanging on the wall? No- because you are only going to be there awhile. It is not your permanent home." That is how I want to live my life. This life on earth is temporary- my home is in heaven. I don't want to spend too much time, money and energy on things that die with me here. Instead, I want to invest in eternal things- such as lives. That is why I sacrifice my time and energy into this website. I hope that God is using it to reach people- to build up believers, and call out to the lost who aren't saved. What are you investing your life into- temporary things or eternal things? How does God want to use you? How are you living your life- as though this is your home, or as if you are just visiting? I challenge you to really take a look at your life- how you are living it. If we are called aliens, sojourners and exiles- do the citizens of this earth see you as that or do they see you as a fellow citizen? People see me as a Canadian, especially when I talk about ketchup chips and talk like a Canadian. If we truly love and follow Jesus, people should know that we are aliens because of what we talk about and how we talk. I hope that the people around me see me as not just an alien to the USA because I am Canadian, but as an alien because Heaven is my home.
I love this chapter. I read it a few times before writing- not because I chose to read it a few times for clarity- no, it was because I hadn't prepared my mind and I wasn't sober minded. My vision was clouded, and I couldn't concentrate, nor connect with this chapter. When I say that I wasn't sober minded, I don't mean that I had a few beers in me- trust me when I say I've been without alcohol since October 13, 2009. When I say my vision was clouded, it wasn't because I decided to go out early morning when there was a heavy fog surrounding me. However, this past week, I received money in the mail since it was my 29th birthday, and my mind was not on Jesus, but on how I could spend all the money I got. Been there? Maybe not. I have- more than a few times. I was obsessing over clothes, shoes and kitchen stuff- aka: things. Some people would call it OCD. The Bible calls it idolatry. As much as I was avoiding the thought of it being idolatry, I was still in prayer every day asking the Lord to take this obsession from me. But I wasn't doing my part. I was still going online, still shopping. Yesterday, I emptied out all my online carts and closed my laptop. No more. I finally did my part, and this morning, my vision is back and I am sober-minded once again. My mind is ready for action. What clouds your vision? What takes away your focus from Jesus? I am embarrassed to even consider how much time went into filling my online cart with items, only to repeatedly look at them, add to them, subtract from them, add my name to online email coupons- only to have wasted all that time doing nothing- for nothing. When Peter says, "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance", that's exactly what I was doing. I was submitting to things that don't matter. I say submitting, because it's okay to buy clothes, shoes and kitchen stuff- but I was obsessing. Have you read my article Skincare Struggle? I was in the same mode. I spent my time foolishly, and I spent my mind foolishly. All it did, was take time away from Jesus, my children and my sanity. Our minds should be set on Jesus- all the time. If something takes your mind off Him, you should remove it. Period. You can honor Jesus while you shop, while you clean, while you cook, while you work.... or even by cleaning, by cooking, by working, (by shopping?). I was not honoring Him with my time, with my money, or with my mind. It's crazy too, that when I slip into idolatry, everything else around me is affected. My relationship with Jesus, my relationship with my husband, my relationship with my kids. I had a really stressful week- Oskar was driving me nuts!!!! And maybe it was because he just wanted a little of my time... This makes me cry. I can't believe how quickly and deep it dragged me. I was so focused on what shirts were on clearance that my son couldn't even let me know he needed my love, instead, I got angry because he was misbehaving. They say when a child misbehaves, it could be that he just needs loving, quality attention. Looking back on the week- that's exactly what he needed.
Are you going to exchange good time for idolatry time? What things take your focus off Jesus? What is pressing on your heart as you read this? What is the Holy Spirit trying to reveal as idolatry in your life?
Rotten & Moth Eaten
As confessed in Chapter 2, I struggle with being approved by the rich. In the depths of my earthly being I desire things of this world. Thank you Lord for working this out in me. Verses 1-6 was a reminder for me and even more than a reminder- an exortation against the fleshly desires I have. Verse 2 says: "Your riches have rotten and your garments are moth-eaten." Verse 3 says: "Your gold and silver have corroded..." And verse 5 says: "You have lived on the earth in luxury and self-indulgence." As I have shared before, it is not wrong to have money- because it is infact God who blesses and provides it. But it is how you steward it. If you spend it so you can live life on this earth in luxury and self-indulgence, then it is sin. If you use it to bring glory to God and others to the Kingdom, then you are using to honorably. It is not wrong to have nice things, nice clothes, gold or silver jewelry- but what are your intentions with owning these things? See for me, my sinful nature is that my identity would lie with these things, that is what my confession was all about. My identity should only be in Jesus. If you have things you need to confess such as this- you should share with a friend who loves you and whom you can trust completely. Verse 16: "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed." The thing about sin, is if you keep it hidden, it will destroy you. When I struggled with porn, I didn't share it with Joey at first. I was embarassed and ashamed that I would let myself be tempted, then dragged into that sin. It wasn't until I confessed it to Joey and a close friend that i was able to be completely delivered from it. Obviously my confession to Jesus was needed first and foremost, but it seemed like I was asking for forgiveness daily. Repentance was desperately needed. For me, part of repentance was sharing it with people who could pray, hold me accountable and help me through it. When I was looking at porn behind closed doors, Satan loved it. He loved that nobody knew about it because it kept me weak and vulnerable to temptation. He wanted me to stay ashamed and embarassed in hopes that I wouldn't share my sin with anyone. He wanted me to feel unworthy of God's forgiveness in hopes that I wouldn't ask Him for it and repent. However, when the darkness was exposed- light was shed and my sin was visible. I wasn't hiding it anymore. It wasn't easy sharing with people- even the ones close to me, but it's through my openness that I got through it with accountability, prayer and encouragement. True repentance is taking steps to ensure you won't return to your sin- even if it means being completely honest with someone and revealing things you are ashamed of- even if it means ruining your "holy reputation". If you want to be holy, you need to practice holiness. And the Bible tells us to "Confess to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed." Holiness isn't ignoring or hiding sin. It's dealing with it.
Love for the World
I looked at the heading for the first section of this chapter- and prayed. I already knew it was for me. The last couple days I have felt something that is causing division in my soul- and this morning I realized it is the love of the world. One of my biggest struggles is loving things of the world- fashion, thinking of myself in the world- more highly than I ought and being consumed with things that seem practical and logical- but become idols. There is nothing wrong with looking nice- but when you think about it too much, it's a problem. There is nothing wrong with having confidence- as long as it's in the Lord and because of who HE is rather that who I AM and as long as it's in HIM and not in the world. There is nothing wrong with the new blender/saute pan/knives/dinnerware/flatware/indoor grill/placemats/napkins/skewers/grill plates/panini maker/tea kettle that I want (and some of you can clearly see my problem) but when I spend hours comparing them or get anxiety about it- it's obviously an issue! It's crazy because I didn't realize I was internally struggling with these things until I saw the heading in this chapter- than BAM- He smacked me over the head with a few things. Oddly though, I LOVE when He does that! Thank you JESUS! So, when I read the couple verses, I knew how I could identify with it. Here are the first two verses: "What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so your fight and quarrel." Here is my confession- No, I dont' want to murder anybody. But, when I want something that I know I shouldn't have because I have spent way too much thought on it (trying to convince myself why I need it so badly) or when I want something logical but can't afford it with my spending money (we do the envelope system with personal spending money), I get mad. I get mad because my "passions are at war within" me. I want something I know will not build me up and might even cause me to step backward in my faith or in the way God has led me, but yet it seems so innocent at the same time. I might want something I think I need, or want so badly, but inside I know I don't, and it's in fact foolish to buy. I find myself- either way- fighting against the world. The world has desires that entice me- it might not be sinful in itself, it might not be sinful at all- but regardless, I need to make conscious decisions- is this wise? Does this cause me to stumble? Is this pride? Is this bringing me closer to Jesus? Does Jesus approve (of what I'm wearing, of what I want to buy, of how I am thinking about myself)? This causes quarrels between me and Joey (my husband) because I drag him into it- unintentionally making it his problem rather than mine. I ask him to buy it for me, or whine at him because I don't have money enough to buy this "thing I really want" or "thing I really need". I try to justify my issue through him- in a sense, passing off my responsibilities and asking him to deal with them. I am now realizing is this in regards to the things I want/need/think I need: I have a good husband. He wants to provide for me. I also have a great God. He also wants to provide for me. Between the two of them, if it's something I NEED, one of them will provide it for me! The reason my repentance is SO IMPORTANT regarding this, my confidence and what I wear is because of verse 4: Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoevever wishes to be a friend with the world makes himself an enemy with God." Now you're probably thinking, "Leanne, a new saute pan isn't making yourself an enemy with God." And I totally agree- but with my mind and heart being consumed by these things creates idolatry. And idolatry is worship. And worship of any other thing but God- is a sin. Some of you think I'm going over board. But I will say this: I would rather go over board and keep myself as pure as I know how, then to ignore these things and fall into pride, ignorance and have an unrepentant heart that leads to death. You may not have any struggle with these things, but I know myself well enough, that although I could try and justify it till I'm blue in the face, I know- deep within me- that I am giving part of my heart to the world. Verse 17: "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." Thank you Jesus, once again! See brothers and sisters- for me it is sin if I ignore what the Spirit lays on my heart.
Isn't it great when you get- first hand- a testimony??? You do realize that all of this realization is happening at this exact moment!! If any of you can relate to this, I encourage you to "like" this with the Facebook like button or leave a comment. You don't need to leave you real name if you don't want to. But I'd love to hear your personal story!! You can also email me at email@example.com.
Lover of Jesus, wife to a great husband, mother of 3 young children. I love to write, cook, and make greeting cards! Read more about me and my family here.