Who is in Control?

Who is in conrtolThere is a constant war that takes place inside me. It most likely takes place in you also. At times the war is very evident, it shows in our actions and attitudes that the war in raging inside. Other times it’s less noticeable and almost seems  we’ve won the war.

The war is control. The players are God and self. Self wants it’s own way. It wants to know the next step in life. Self wants to control. God also wants control. He wants to be the final authority in our lives. He wants us to live by faith and trust His will.

Sometimes it’s hard to clearly see who is in control. We think we are allowing God to lead but in reality it is self. We get really good at playing the game so that it appears we are walking by faith, but it’s all a ruse. And before we know it we are in an all out war for control.

Self or God, who is in control? How can we be sure? Ephesians 4 helps us understand how to do a self check to be sure we are walking a life of surrender to God and not a life controlled by self.

Here are 5 things that will be evident in my life if God is in control and not self.

  1. Unity. (1-10) You will have a desire to live in unity with other believers. You will guard the unity of Christ’s Church.
  2. Discipleship. (11-16)You will live a life that desires to teach and train fellow believers ,using your gifts from God, in order to help them grow up in Christ. You will have a deep desire to see other believers to grow  and mature in their faith.
  3. Holiness. (17-24)You will no longer live the life you did before Christ. There will be clear evidence in your life that you are becoming more and more like Christ and the things of the world no longer hold you in bondage.
  4. Fight Sin. (25-29) You will not longer desire to sin but will fight daily to eradicate it from your life. When you do sin it will grieve you and you’ll seek reconciliation quickly.
  5. Seek Forgiveness. (30-32) You will make your relationship with God a priority and will seek forgiveness quickly. There will be a spirit of kindness, love and forgiveness about you. You will quickly seek forgiveness when there has been an offense against God and others.

Of course there are many other things that could be listed, but this list from Ephesians four covers much. Bottom line is that if God is in control there will be evidence of a life lived in the “new nature”. You will desire to be obedient to His word regardless of the cost. You will surrender your will completely to the will of God. The “old nature” is evident when we live a life of self-centeredness, pride, and are defensive and self-gratifying.

Who is in control of you life today? What about tomorrow? Next week? This is a check list we need to constantly hold up to see how we are doing. It’s all too easy to slip into a life of thinking and living for self and not God.

Oh Father I need help to live a life filled with the Spirit. My flesh, my desires can not be denied apart from You. If I am not constantly surrendering my life, my desires to you then my flesh is more than willing to take over. Forgive me Father for living those moments in the flesh when unity has been sacrificed and sin has taken over. Help me to forgive and to ask my brothers and sisters who I have offended to forgive me. Help me to guard the unity of Your church. Show me those places I could use my gifts to help Your people grow. Show me those areas I need to grow up and help me be teachable in those places that I need to change and grow. Thank you for Your patience and that you never give up. Amen

The Prodigal’s Free Choice

My child I love you,
I know you do not fully understand the depths of my love.
I love you enough to die for you.
I love you enough to give you the most precious gift
A gift you still do not understand.
A gift called free choice.
My beloved child you are mine.
I drew you unto myself years ago.
You loved me, sought me and you desired to follow me.
dreamstimefree_2831598You were on a path that would lead to my wonderful purposes for you.
Then, you looked away; you began to see what the world had to offer.
It looked pleasing to you, and you choose to follow the lies of this world.
Do you see how much I love you?
I’ve given you free choice, even when it breaks my heart,
even though it cost me the life of my Son.
Do you understand how much His death cost Me?
Now you are choosing your own way.
You are not following hard after Me.
My child do you not see the pain you cause?
Do you not see the road of pain your choices will cost you?
My child I will wait for you.
Now you are making choices that cause my heart to ache,
For I long to have an intimate relationship with you again.
But you can not have intimacy with me while you choose to follow another god.
Someday you will stop running from Me, you will see your need of Me.
Do you understand that you do not walk alone in your sin?
In every wrong choice, every sin you commit, I am there.
I chose you before the foundations of the world.
I will not let you go.
Yes I’ll let you have your free choice, but I will continue to work in you,
For you are Mine!
And one day when the world is done with you and you finally believe in the truth
that you already know
You will turn around to come home and I will be there
with my open arms ready to receive you again.

I am Prone to Wander

What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? Luke 15:4

Through the years God has shown me the truth of this passage over and over. It seems that for many years my heart was prone to wander greatly. (and at times it can still be prone to do so). But recently I have been reflecting on the truth that God will “never leave nor forsake us” and He brought a life changing event to mind that helped me finally take this truth from my head to my heart.

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At the age of 20 I was not married and pregnant. I hadn’t told anyone for I planned to abort. I was talking with my pastor and for reasons only God know he came right out and asked me if I was pregnant. I had to tell him yes.

He shared his  disappointment but never did he make me feel ashamed. He shared with me God’s willingness to forgive. Over the next few weeks this pastor would call me, but I did my best to ignore the calls. He came by the house, but I pretended I wasn’t home. Then he showed up at my place of employment. He was relentless. He wasn’t going to leave me alone until I talked to him.

For nine months this pastor pursued me to make sure I was okay, that I was not continuing to live in sin. He offered advice, support and a loving heart. He prayed for me and with me, even in those times when I really did not feel like praying. He showed me Christ. And when so many were ignoring and judging me, he modeled the love of Christ.

To this day I believe it is due to his persistence that I am walking with the Lord. Toward the end of my pregnancy I rededicated my life to Christ. I left that path of destruction I was on and chose to follow God with my whole heart.

It was not easy, being a single mom, but God through His amazing Grace and Mercy brought me a godly man when my son was only 11 months old.

God has often used this mans faithfulness in modeling Christ to my mind when I am struggling to believe that God could really love me when, once again, I failed. He uses this man’s example when I look at my sin and think “God is done with me now, there is no more mercy.” Or “He’s not going to forgive this same sin again and again!” God reminds me He will pursue me in an even greater way. He does not give up.

Why does He continue to pursue me when I so easily wander from the flock? Because He loves me, forgives,  is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and He said that He will never forsake me. (Neh 9:17)

He also says to me

“Be strong and courageous, and act ; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished.  (1 Chron 28:20)

…for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” Heb 13:5b

“What do you think ? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying ? “If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray.Matt 18:12-13

I may be prone to wander at times but my great Shepherd will always pursue me in order to bring me back to where I belong.

Oh Father how thankful I am for the examples you have given me to remind me that You will never leave or forsake me. I am Yours and You will pursue me just as You pursue all Your sheep. Whether they are lost or wandering, they are Yours and nothing will pluck them from your hands. Keep my heart close to Yours, help me to be obedient and here Your voice. Do what is necessary in order to keep my heart from wandering from Your perfect will.

Sinning Against My Husband

ID-100122416Last week God allowed me to see that I have been responding to my husband in a way that doesn’t always show love or respect. I was reminded of a blog post I wrote last year about respect. At the end I had asked several questions. One being, “What about my attitude when speaking with him? Does my voice tones also show respect?”

My heart was grieved. I looked at my husband who I dearly love and felt such sorrow. A sorrow that leads to repentance. (2 Cor 7:10) He does not deserve my snarky attitude. He doesn’t deserve my bad day (or week). I mean it’s one thing to tell him I’m having a bad day, or feel bad. It’s something entirely different to take it out on him.

Tears of compassion welled up in my eyes. As I looked at him I began to really see him. Not just as my husband but also as a man who loves God. As a man who is my covenant partner, friend and brother in Christ. A man who has devoted his life to me, to provide for our family and raise our boys. A man who works very hard so that I can stay home. 

This man I married has not been prefect. But, he has always loved me. Always. Even in my moments of a disrespectful, awful, snarky attitude. He honors me, lifts me up and continues to love me. Do you know that there is hardly a day that goes by that he doesn’t tell me I am beautiful and he loves me? So how could I possibly be mean with a man like this?

It’s easy. I am a daughter of Eve. I have a sinful nature that wants to rise up and have my own way. I want to be in control. I want what I want when I want it!! No, it’s not pretty. In fact it’s rather ugly. It’s times like this that I really understand Paul in Rom 7:18 “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.”

At times I suppose it would be easy to just stop there and say “Oh well, it’s my sinful flesh, God’s working on it, so deal with it!” It grieves me when I here that excuse or attitude. Whether I hear it in my mind or hear it out of the mouth of believers.

My husband shouldn’t have to deal with it. Not because he loves me or is good to me. And not just because I shouldn’t treat him that way. He doesn’t have to deal with it because Jesus already dealt with it.

It’s times like this that I must return to the cross. I have sinned against my husband. I have sinned against God. So my snarky little attitude needs to take time to go back to the cross and preach the gospel!

What I mean by that is I need to remember that I am a sinner. I need a Savior. And at the cross “Christ died for our [my] sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (1 Cor 15:2b-3)

At the cross Christ conquered death. He paid for my sin. I no longer am a slave to my flesh. Christ Jesus is living in me through His Spirit. Therefore, I no longer have to live according to what my flesh desires. Because of His righteousness I am able to live in righteousness, (with a right attitude). (Roman 8:10-20)

Don’t you see? I do not have to be disrespectful attitude toward my husband. When I am feeling bad, with a wrong attitude, I can go to the cross BEFORE I behave in an unbecoming way. I do not have to live in bondage to my flesh any longer. It doesn’t have to rule over me. I have been set free. (Rom 8:2)

So my snarky little self spent time at the foot of Jesus so that I could have my attitude adjusted! And you know what? It felt really good, and freeing as I allowed His Spirit to minister to my spirit with grace, mercy and love.

 

Note: If any husbands are reading this please know that the same truth can be applied to you toward your wife! Winking smile

 

 

*Photo of couple fighting By David Castillo Dominici,Stock Photo – image ID: 100122416