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

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His Grace is Enough

Woman on Beach Looking at Ocean --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis There are days I am overwhelmed with this life.

All sorts of doubts plague my mind.

I am assaulted with lies and insults within.

My self talk seems bent on destroying the truth I know.

I see my weaknesses.

I understand the powerlessness of self to be different than I am.

Then I am reminded that Christ has said, “…My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”

But still I strive to be, to change and yet it is impossible apart from His grace. It is His work in me that I must surrender to. So I choose to glory in my weaknesses knowing that it is the power of Christ dwelling in me that can change me.

So I must choose to surrender to His power, His grace, for it alone is enough. It’s all I need.

“…My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Looking Back, Moving Forward

Those of you who have followed my blog for any length of time know that I begin each new year with a verse and a word or theme for the year. My verse came to me in looking-back-moving_thumb.jpgNovember. In so many ways I was blown away by it. It fit. It was right. It was time. But first, last year God worked in my heart to destroy some idols that had deep roots. God showed me that “Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord ’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such people may seek you and worship in your presence” (Ps 24:6)

It was a hard year looking into the heart and seeing those things and people who had become more important that my relationship with God. But mostly I saw that my biggest idol was self and the need to control. So for the largest part of the year God had me study who He is. I mean what better way to destroy the idol of self then to see who God truly is. When we come face to face with the Holiness of His character we have no choice but to bow in humility and surrender all that we are.

So in November when God brought me to Is 61:7 my heart was deeply moved. Isaiah says “Instead of your shame you will have a double portion, And instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land, Everlasting joy will be theirs.

You see, my life verse is “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted ; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted , To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners ; To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn…” (Is 61:1-2) So this verse spoke loudly. Not only because I had spent a year looking into the character of God and seeing my utter sinfulness and my enemy often tried to have a field day with pouring shame and humiliation upon my head but God had also used the study of His character to apply deeper balms of healing to my soul.

When God binds up the brokenhearted, frees the prisoner and brings good news to the afflicted we should shout for joy! Somehow I have lost the importance of joy, His joy. God has healed me of my sin, of my abuse, of my afflictions and so much more so instead of shame and humiliation there should be joy.

This is my journey for 2014, to find joy in all life’s circumstances. I was so moved by the fact that Everlasting Joy can be mine that I began a new blog titled Everlasting Joy. I believe this is the beginning of a new season. A season of finding joy in Christ alone. A season of finding joy in all of life’s circumstance because my joy is found in Him alone.

Thank you for joining me. I look forward to this walk with you. Eventually I will move Quiet Reflections over to Everlasting Joy, I think. For I am not sure I can keep up two blogs!

You will make known to me the path of life ; In Your presence is fullness of joy ; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Ps 16:11

 

Photo courtesy of  Stoonn at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Walking in Humility

walkinhumility…”God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all you anxiety on him because he cares for you.
(1 Peter 5: 5b-7)

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom”Proverbs 11:2

As I read these verses once again I see something different, especially in light of what C.J. Mahaney writes in his book Humility: True Greatness When we humble ourselves each morning by casting our cares on the Lord,we will start the day free of care. The humble are genuinely care free. I’ve discovered how true that is about myself and my soul. Where there’s worry, where there’s anxiousness, pride is at the root of it. When I’m experiencing anxiety, the root issue is that I’m trying to be self-sufficient. I’m acting independent of God.”

I am to walk in humility.

Peter says “humble yourself under God’s mighty hand.” Wouldn’t that stand to reason then that I need to accept what God gives me? Even the pain I’m presently experiencing? After all, my current struggles have not caught God by surprise. He ordained them.

Often when hard circumstances come I ask why? Why me? Why this? I search for an answer. Could it not be in order to HUMBLE me? There is always a reason God allows painful circumstances in my life. Could it be to teach me to be totally dependent on Him?  Could the hard things be to teach me “…to need him, and in the end to give glory to Him with an ever deepening appreciation for the mighty hand of God” ?(Mahaney)

I do not need to know the path ahead in order to trust Him. If I walk in humble dependence in His purposes wouldn’t it be possible then to walk with joy no matter where the path ahead may lead?

What if I could come to the point that I can acknowledged my complete lack of ability to control anything in my life and then accept what ever the hand of God brings me? If I could recognize my total dependence on God. Then walk daily in that dependence, allowing God to have free access to my life.

How can I get to a place of joyful humility? I think beyond our admitting our dependence on God we need to have an attitude of humility. I need to purposefully remind myself each morning that God will take care of me. He has a plan and a reason for everything that comes my way. I need not worry or e anxious about my life. I need to trust Him each moment with my life regardless of what happens. Then in the afternoon I need to remind myself again …and again. It’s a constant act of placing myself in the mighty hands of God and then TRUSTING He WILL take care of me. I need to trust Him with every detail of my life knowing that He knows the number of my days and He desires my good in all things.

No, it’s not easy. I do not mean to make it sound easy. We so often want to see the road ahead first then we will trust. But then, that is not trust is it? We need to have the faith of a child that places her hand in the hand of her Father and just walks along with Him not matter how scary the road looks. That child knows she can trust her Father.

Oh God I do desire to get to that place where I can be free of worry about the road ahead . To  be completely dependent on you. Father, forgive me of my pride that says “I know better”. Forgive me for thinking that somehow by worrying that I am going to have answers to fix my problems. God help me to be TOTALLY dependent on you this day…this moment. Help me to walk in true humility where I do not need all the answers to life’s circumstances, I do not need to see the road ahead. Help me to trust in Your goodness to me. Help me to walk in the joy of Your purposes regardless of what the road entails. Amen.

When We Must Let Go

I hear her heart breaking. I see the emotions that are swirling inside her. It rips her apart to have to let go. She knows that it is what you want, she knows it is time and yet there is the tearing of the heart that she did not expect. She has put so much time and energy into making sure there was growth and maturity, she put so much of herself into raising them up.

Now it’s time to let go. She knew the day would come, but the pain of it brings great sobs before You. She wonders if she has done enough. The time was so short, it just seems too soon to let go!

free_butterflyWhat about the areas that still need growth, still need maturity? Can she really let go and trust that her God will watch over them? She must, for she knows that it is only with her God that they are safe. She know that God has great plans for them. She knows that the future He has planned will bring much glory to her Father’s name.

Knowing truth doesn’t make it hurt any less to let go. The pain is still there. Her heart still grieves as she lets go of that which she has put so much of her heart, soul and life into.

So now she mourns the loss, the letting go. She knows her God will watch over them. She knows that her time has come to an end. She knows that her God will move her and them on to something more, something greater that will far exceed anyone’s expectations.

She completely accepts this as part of Your plan. She knew they wouldn’t be hers forever.

She will continue to follow her God through to the next place of growth. This will not stop her, she will not be overcome by her pain or grief.

Her heart will still mourn. But her comfort comes as she knows that her God sees the pain of her heart and He understands.