Jesus really wants us to be care-free!

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I have gone back to reading Oswald Chambers’ devotional, My Utmost for His Highest.  A few years ago, someone gifted me with Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening. So, I put Chambers’ book aside.  But a friend quoted him a few months ago. I dug out a copy and have so enjoyed and been challenged rereading his thoughts.

This morning I copied down a Chambers’ teaching: “Worrying means we don’t think God can look after the practical details of our lives and it is never anything else that worries us” (May 23)

That admonition ties together today’s reflections about worry and relying on Jesus.

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If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5 ESV

Being an ‘ezer’ to my husband is a serious responsibility.  Yet, I know God has assigned me to be Mike’s helpmate. I pray a lot, though still succumb to fretting over possible ‘wrong’ advice.

Mike had been experiencing frustration at work. So, I encouraged him to seek other local jobs in his field. Boeing had an opening.  He applied and Monday was offered the position at a salary way more than he even asked for. All along we prayed for God’s wisdom. But, when I suggested that he let his boss know about the offer, we moved out on a limb of faith, being unsure of the reaction the email would spark. Would he write back: ‘Good luck and in touch!’ or something worse like, ‘After all we have invested in you, you search out another job!!!!’

Brad did not respond the day Mike pushed ‘send’ on his email. It wasn’t until the following day that he connected with Mike. But Mike did not let me know until he came home.  In suspense that lasted until early afternoon, I wrestled with doubts and fears. “Father, did I ill-advise Mike?” Peace came only after throwing myself on God’s sovereign control of even my ‘wrong’ decisions.

Being a wife stretches my faith!

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Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near! Philippians 4:5 NET

I keep re-reading this teaching.  Like you, I am aware of the many cares and burdens that loved ones have. If God is sovereign, then these problems are planned for the good of His people. And He alone gets to define ‘good’!

How are we to handle suffering?  By casting our ‘unsolvable’ burdens on Him.  We specifically ask His help and then hand over the matters.  That means we are CARE-free.  Freed from cares that are too much for us, those situations for which we have no visible resources.

Our mental space then is freed up to reflect God’s desire: ‘Let your gentle carefreeness, which is due to Jesus’ nearness, be evident to all’ (my translation).

I can follow Jesus this day, serving others in love, doing my assigned tasks BECAUSE I know who this Jesus is. He is none other than the loving, faithful, sovereign Creator and Lord of the universe.

If He, the Almighty One, is handling my issues, no worries. But help me, Holy Spirit! It’s far easier to know how I am to handle life’s issues, than to follow through.

Jesus is not who we think!

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Jesus startles. He is NOT whom we expect nor does He act like ‘normal’ people. Sometimes He’s not even whom we want. But we don’t get to choose our particular flavor of our Savior.  He is God.

Martha and the man in the crowd want personal ‘justice’.  The disciples want reassurance as protection against future suffering.

Father, give us the desire to want to receive Jesus just as He is!

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Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Luke 12:13 ESV

This request has got to be the ‘male version’ of Martha’s complaint to Jesus in Luke 10.  I can’t quite picture a gal this focused on land and wealth.

Jesus responds with ‘anthropos’, translated by my Bible as ‘man’, although the Greek word can mean either man or woman. 

Just as Jesus rebuked Martha for focusing on cooking and serving dinner, our Lord here points out to the complaining brother that life isn’t about collecting riches or ‘stuff’.  Jesus suggests a better way in verse 21:  Man, don’t be rich for yourself; instead, be rich toward God, by offering Him your abundance.

Likewise, I can picture Him gently reproving Martha in a similar fashion: Martha, don’t do your household tasks for yourself, do them for God, to please Him!

***

“Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered?” Luke 13:2 NLT

I was telling a non-Christian friend about a woman I had recently who had suffered trauma in the past two years: the sudden death of her husband, a double mastectomy and now she was facing more cancer.  My friend reacted with a rhetorical question, but one you hear a lot these days: “Why do bad things always seem to happen to good people!”

This sentiment is the opposite of that held by those in Jesus’ day and even earlier. (Consider Job’s friends.) Furthermore, because of God’s Law handed down through Moses, people reasoned differently: “All this bad stuff happened; ‘they’ must have sinned!”

In either case, whether one hails from the western world in the 21st century or from Jesus’ day and earlier, the conclusion is the same: Good people deserve favorable circumstances.

Jesus responds in the next verse, “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish!” Luke 16:3 ESV

There are no good people, by nature.

Are you weary of thinking about yourself or the world?

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Last night I was reading Vaneetha Risner’s latest book Walking through Fire.  One comment she made stayed with me through this morning.  She sensed God say to her, “It’s not about you.”

So often I flit between three emotional sinkholes (they don’t get me anywhere):

  • evaluating what will make me content
  • wondering if what I am doing is the best use of my time
  • pondering whether someone I care about is saved since I don’t see much ‘fruit’

All three keep me locked up thinking about me or others. When all along it’s not about me, but about God.

The only solution is to focus on Him and trust His plans.

I offer these two short devotions from my daily writing.

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For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed… he has done great things for me. Luke 1:48-49 NLT

Usually, I boast about my accomplishments in order to impress others.  But sweet little Mary, all of 14 or 15 years old, doesn’t.

I can imagine her marveling at how God noticed her, she a ‘nothing special’ among many other rural backwater Hebrews. To boot, she’s a young girl in a patriarchal society, with no status at all. The fact that God singles her out, sends a mighty angel to speak personally to her, announcing an unimaginable future must have stunned her.

She proclaims her future fame as an insignificant participant in God’s story by bursting into praise for how people will one day make a big deal over her.  Not for anything she has done. It’s all about the Almighty and the great things He has done for her.

Has done’. She knows that Gabriel’s announced future event is already recorded in God’s history book.

***

…Don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. 1 Corinthians 4:5 NLT

Sometimes I feel discouraged about the few changes I see in the lives of those for whom I care.  I’m thinking particularly of believers, in whose patterns of daily living I would like to see more Christlikeness.  They view me the same way, no doubt. 

This exhortation from Paul should relieve us greatly. The story is not over! Do you remember Polaroid cameras?  A simple click and a picture would emerge.  Someone, something caught for an instant.  That is how our evaluations are; we base them on ephemeral snapshots.  We use too little information each time we draw a conclusion.

Not only is this way of thinking not based on God’s reality, it is sin. I defame someone when I make a negative judgment formed from one of those earlier captured moments.

Today’s scripture both rebukes me AND encourages me.  I can leave the judging to God who sees all, and keep on praying in faith.

Each day I look forward to talking with Jesus!

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I’m practicing being honest with God.  This week, He seems to be encouraging me NOT to filter my feelings. He’s been encouraging me to ‘spit them out’.  I realize how often I stop myself from acknowledging any thought that feels like sin.  Like pride. Or judgmentalism.  But you know what I also realized?  That if I don’t tell Jesus what I’m thinking and feeling, then I don’t allow Him to speak.  I cut myself off from what He thinks about all this and what He wants me to do.

Here are two entries from my journal this week.  

December 5

Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matt 18:3 ESV

What are little kids like? I think of Elizabeth, my very verbal granddaughter, who is 6.  Every time we are together, she asks a million questions. She wants to know everything.

Just how does that make me feel? Happy that she is interested in what I think! She also wants to show me her latest drawings and what she can do, from cartwheel to piano melody.

Am I annoyed?  No! I enjoy her company. 

I wrote yesterday that God has called us into koinonia: intimate, conversational fellowship with Jesus.  He wants us to talk and listen to Him non-stop.  Without an ‘adult’ stuffy filter.

Someone said the other day: ‘Oh, I don’t want to bother God about the little things in my life.  He’s way to busy!”

One of Satan’s favorite lies! And definitely not what the Bible teaches.  But do we actually believe what Jesus said?

Chatter on, dear friends!

December 6

We tear down arguments and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor 10:5 Berean

In my study this morning, I saw Paul’s statement differently.  So, I rewrote it in my journal like this:

We capture every thought, bringing it out of Satan’s governing purview, and present each thought and the feeling it produces to Christ who is Lord over our thoughts, our feelings and our actions.

I’ve written about Jamie Winship and how greatly his training in both knowing God and recognizing false identities is changing me. The first step is to bring our thoughts out into the light and ‘confess’ them to Jesus. 

Next, we think through what that thought or feeling implies about ‘who we are’, (who we THINK we are).  All this, without any filter.  Then we ask Him: What do YOU say about this, Jesus?  What do you want me to do?

Then we listen.

I like how Paul says the same thing.

**

You know, this freedom to bare all to the One who already KNOWS it all is a relief. I find that I can’t wait to tell him what’s on my mind and in my heart. And I’m curious to hear from Him, too.

Each day, I look forward to hearing from God!

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I’m practicing being honest with God.  This week, He seems to be encouraging me NOT to filter my feelings. He’s been encouraging me to ‘spit them out’.  I realize how often I stop myself from acknowledging any thought that feels like sin.  Like pride. Or judgmentalism.  But you know what I also realized?  That if I don’t tell Jesus what I’m thinking and feeling, then I don’t allow Him to speak.  I cut myself off from what He thinks about all this and what He wants me to do.

Here are two entries from my journal this week.  

December 5

Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matt 18:3 ESV

What are little kids like? I think of Elizabeth, my very verbal granddaughter, who is 6.  Every time we are together, she asks a million questions. She wants to know everything.

Just how does that make me feel? Happy that she is interested in what I think! She also wants to show me her latest drawings and what she can do, from cartwheel to piano melody.

Am I annoyed?  No! I enjoy her company. 

I wrote yesterday that God has called us into koinonia: intimate, conversational fellowship with Jesus.  He wants us to talk and listen to Him non-stop.  Without an ‘adult’ stuffy filter.

Someone said the other day: ‘Oh, I don’t want to bother God about the little things in my life.  He’s way to busy!”

One of Satan’s favorite lies! And definitely not what the Bible teaches.  But do we actually believe what Jesus said?

Chatter on, dear friends!

December 6

We tear down arguments and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor 10:5 Berean

In my study this morning, I saw Paul’s statement differently.  So, I rewrote it in my journal like this:

We capture every thought, bringing it out of Satan’s governing purview, and present each thought and the feeling it produces to Christ who is Lord over our thoughts, our feelings and our actions.

I’ve written about Jamie Winship and how greatly his training in both knowing God and recognizing false identities is changing me. The first step is to bring our thoughts out into the light and ‘confess’ them to Jesus. 

Next, we think through what that thought or feeling implies about ‘who we are’, (who we THINK we are).  All this, without any filter.  Then we ask Him: What do YOU say about this, Jesus?  What do you want me to do?

Then we listen.

I like how Paul says the same thing.

**

You know, this freedom to bare all to the One who already KNOWS it all is a relief. I find that I can’t wait to tell him what’s on my mind and in my heart. And I’m curious to hear from Him, too.

Hearing God

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The amazing discovery. I can actually have a conversation with the Living God and HEAR what He says. Not audibly, mind you, but He provides the sense or thoughts. Here are two recent journal entries.

November 29

Since you are precious to me, you are honored and I love you…… Isaiah 43:4 God’s Word Translation

I was lying. To myself. About who I am.

Identity is foundational. Watching a Jamie Winship teaching on identity, I pressed myself to be honest.

Since I was 8 years old I have believed that I am one who is NOT enough. And in order to be liked, appreciated, needed, valuable, popular, chosen….wanted, I have to DO a lot for people.

What does someone like me who doesn’t feel wanted for herself, apart from what she does LOOK like?  Competent and driven.

In the training, Jamie had us close our eyes and offer that false identity up to Jesus and then ‘watch’ what He would do. ‘Okay….I don’t think anything is going to happen,’ I thought. But I complied.

Immediately, a picture came to mind:   Jesus gently sweeping that identity of ‘Unwanted’ out of my offering hands, breaking it up into many sparkly, glittering particles that floated off into nothingness.

I realized: This is fact!  I am not ‘Unwanted’. Nor have I ever been. That is a lie absorbed, encouraged by Satan and believed –  all from my child’s sense of events.

Who does Jesus, the only True and Living God, say I am?

“Precious, full of honor and loved”. That’s the Truth.

30 November

Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace (Shalowm) to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly. Psalm 85:8 ESV

The text message arrived late. I didn’t want another obligation! Knowing I was to meet with Jesus in the morning, I nevertheless fell asleep quickly, having reminded myself that Jesus calls me ‘precious, full of honor and loved’.

This morning, coffee at hand, I read yesterday’s words in my journal (Psalm 85:8) – an invitation to confess my feeling of ‘resentment’ due to that possible obligation. Freely writing down how I felt, I next formed an ‘identity statement’:

  • I am someone who doesn’t trust You to supply enough time to satisfy me.

Then I asked Jesus: What do YOU say about this?

Closing my eyes, I raised empty hands to receive.

I penned what came to mind. The ‘bottom line’ was this:

  • ‘Connected to me, Eternity, I’ll always supply you with enough time.’

His words of peace satisfied – ‘Shalowm’.

Where’s my belt (of Truth)?

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Gizmo lost his collar in the house.

Our granddaughter Elizabeth with Gizmo

He also lost his identity when his collar went missing – that little tag that says WHO he is and WHOSE he is.

I keep losing my ‘collar’, too. That belt or yoke which joins me to Jesus and keeps me KNOWING my identity and who my God is. When I forget and think incorrectly about who I am and who Jesus is, I temporarily lose all my peace and contentment.  I start to feel either anxious or angry.

I’m sure you know that believers don’t lose that ACTUAL state of peace with the Father, once they have been transferred INTO the Kingdom through Jesus’ blood. But we can lose our awareness of peace, of connection with Jesus.

Do you listen to podcasts? I love them. News & cultural reports, interviews, stories, reflections are part of my daily routine.  But never have I taken notes from a podcast, nor listened to one twice!

However, when our son Graham described a couple of concepts he had learned on a recent podcast interview, I knew I wanted to take my time listening.to this one.  Not multitasking as usual, but actually sitting down and taking notes.

Jamie Winship, the interviewee, is a believer whose gift is storytelling. During the two-hour conversation he related a few experiences from the time he and his family had lived in the Middle East and he taught in a Muslim university. Listening to these accounts opened up and changed my understanding of hearing from God.

He also shattered some of my fixed ways of thinking about Jesus.

Let’s circle back to peace and what happens when I LOSE my feeling of peace and joy and fall into fear, worry or anger.

Since the podcast, I have been practicing what I learned.  That is, when I’m stewing in fear, anxiety or frustration, I am learning to STOP and articulate my emotional state.  Jamie calls this ‘confessing’.

Here’s what I noticed and worked through on Wednesday, writing it all down in my journal:

  • Jesus, I’m feeling overwhelmed and burdened by the number of people in my life who need my encouragement and prayers.

Next, I confessed the ‘identity’ these feelings revealed.  Jamie describes this step as formulating an ‘I am’ statement.

It took me several attempts to articulate this functional identity, to get to what I thought was true about me, what fed my feelings of unrest and churn.

(warning, what you read is very ‘stupid’ and not at all true, but it’s what brought on ‘burdened and overwhelmed’ Maria)

  • I am one whose prayers tip the balance in whether people receive God’s blessings.

There, it was out, on paper in front of me.  Even as I penned the words, I knew ‘this identity’ was silly and not at all true. But ‘confession’ is an important step to being cleansed, to being restored.

The next step was to ask God: ‘What do YOU have to say about that?’

I didn’t ‘hear’ God…but He was revealing in my thoughts, what actually IS true:

  • Maria, you’re not me – God!  It’s not up to you how I act in the lives of your friends and family.  I have invited you to participate in their well-being.  Do you really think I won’t do what is best for them? Do I stop being all-powerful, all-good, all-wise, just because you don’t pray?

What was my reaction?  A ‘sheep’-ish realization of how I had been misrepresenting God!  And relief! No, it is NOT up to me!  Yes, I’m one of Jesus’ little lambs, part of His flock and I get to help out.  But I’m not the only one who has received the privilege of praying for certain people in my life.  Besides, if all of us little ones fail to pray, there is still the Holy Spirit who, together with the Son of God at the Father’s right hand intercedes ALL the time.

What happened next?  Amazingly, and immediately the burdens evaporated. Peace and calm came over me. I was back to knowing my true identity and thanking God for who He is.   That is what Jamie calls repentance – a returning to my identity and my God.

Just as Scripture teaches, fear and anger are where Satan abides.  Peace and joy are evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

The simplicity of this ‘tool’, this listening prayer dialogue stuns and excites me.

I’ve been taking advantage of the rhythm of noticing what I’m feeling, confessing it through words in my journal and then asking God for His input and waiting and listening for His answer.  He has not failed to respond to me, sometimes just in thoughts that occur, often through Scripture that just ‘happens’ to pop into my mind.

Joy awaits!

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Genesis 1:3 And God said, ‘Let there be light!’

Psalm 119:130 Understanding your word brings light to the minds of ordinary people.  (CEV)

Explosive joy filled me the other day!

I speak French and am now working daily with Spanish.  But decades ago, when I arrived at university, I started Russian and kept at it for 3 ½ years.  Unfortunately, I have barely used it since.

Yet, 41 years later, God dropped a joy bomb into my lap when I read and understood a short text in simple Russian, forwarded on by a sister language coach. She’s writing a reader for her Russian learners and offered to gift me with the first 4 short chapters, together with a glossary. With dubious expectations of what I would be able to understand I sat down before dinner one afternoon to have a go at it.

To my shock, I understood the first page and a half!!! I could actually still read Cyrillic and comprehend the story line.  The sheer pleasure of reading in another language and understanding it shocked me. I think it’s because I have scanty Russian and as such, assumed I would struggle.

Au contraire!

Not only has the delight, the pleasing surprise stayed with me, this experience has confirmed the necessity of encouraging my English and Spanish on-line students to read in their second language.  Of course, I must curate the texts to ensure success and JOY for my learners.

That’s the goal – giving delight to another student, just as I, a re-invigorated Russian language-learner, received and was able to exult in reading with understanding. But this joy is not limited to second-language learners.  There’s joy to be had in reading and understanding God’s Word

Do you remember the exiles who returned from Babylonia to rebuild the city wall surrounding Jerusalem? The book of Nehemiah tells the account when Ezra read the Scriptures to the people. It goes on to say that the teachers of the law, the Levites, systematically explained to the people what the text meant.

Nehemiah 8:10, 12 (Nehemiah said)…..“This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.

When I teach Spanish and English, I make it my goal to clarify meaning and remove obstacles so that my students can acquire a language with joy.  Our Holy Spirit of God acts similarly, moving in us, shedding light and understanding so WE can experience great joy.

With joy comes strength. Strength to endure hard work, whether learning a language or overcoming sin, the world and the devil through faith.

Is there someone you can guide side-by-side, moving slowly through some Scripture, showing her that with the Holy Spirit’s help we children of God CAN understand what God has said and done? What a privilege!  What joy awaits you both.

When we gave up our rights, we gained privileges

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I’m down in Tampa caring for Chloe and Vera while my son and our daughter-in-law enjoy an anniversary trip to Tucson.  The girls attend a Christian school about 40 minutes away. This morning, I tuned into their radio station of choice, Joy FM, for the commute.

Songs filled the air, as melodic lyrics wove truth, planting seeds of life, hope and beauty about Christ.  During the chat segment one of the radio hosts recounted a profound reminder from her pastor that obviously resonated with her: “We gave up our rights at the Cross!”

Too bad we Christians haven’t fully absorbed that reality!  We have no more rights, but we do have PRIVILEGES that came with our adoption into God’s forever family.

One gift accompanying our new birth is spiritual fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faith/ fidelity, kindness, gentleness and self-control.

Yes, this harvest is ours for the taking as sons and daughters of King Jesus.  But there is a catch. We have to submit to the discipline and practice inherent in mastering any skill before we taste and savor the sweetness of the fruit.

Here’s what I mean:  Let’s say you have always wanted to ride a horse. In your Father’s stable you are free to choose and enjoy any horse you want.  But first you’ll need a horse-riding instructor to teach you the basics.  But that’s not all.  You’ll have to practice and do the kinds of exercises this master horseman recommends.

Acquiring any skill is hard work and demands hour upon hour of practice. Well, how many hours?

Have you ever heard of the ‘10,000-hour rule’?  Malcolm Gladwell popularized it in his book Outliers.  It goes like this: to become an expert or master at anything, you need to rack up that number of hours.  The Beatles did just that, prior to hopping over the Pond from Europe.  Violin virtuosos, ice hockey players, chess maestros, chefs de cuisine and even second language learners like me. (I’m only up to 1659 hours working with Spanish, the reason why my spoken Spanish still feels halting!)

But what is so great about reaching the goal of expert?  MUCH!  You get to enjoy, finally, the fruit of all those dedicated hours of hard work and practice. Scales for a violin player are probably no fun, nor are sweat-producing drills for athletes.  Do you remember ‘wax on, wax off’ from the 1984 movie The Karate Kid?  (look it up if you are too young to know this movie!). Those hours that Daniel spends painting Mr. Miyagi’s fence and waxing his car build muscle memory that translates eventually into winning karate skills.

So, what is the spiritual application?  Just this:  The 9 ‘flavors’ of the fruit of the Spirit are ours, too!  But just like the novice horse-rider, it takes hours of practice and discipline to become skilled enough to enjoy the freedom that comes with having paid one’s dues to become a master.

What is the equivalent of our practice and the fruit of the Spirit?  I think it’s our obedience and submission to God. Each time we obey God’s commands, we are chalking up one more hour of discipline toward eventual delight.  Think flavorful peaches, sweet but tart apples, refreshing grapes, juicy strawberries.

Submissive obedience with cheerfulness to God’s commands like:

  • Don’t fear, grumble, envy, covet, worry, hoard, criticize a person behind their back, place any created thing above God, think more highly of yourself than is true……

The list goes on.  You get the point.

To sum up the payoff – obedience and submission to King Jesus (with His supernatural help!) grow our holiness which creates our genuine happiness.  And true happiness looks like love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

Boasting in the wrong thing

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John 5:44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?

John 5:41 (Jesus said) I do not accept glory from men,

John 12:43 For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.

Pricked by the Holy Spirit and convicted!

I don’t name drop.  I book-title drop. I’m here to fess up to a recent display of my pride. It happened at a mid-week prayer gathering at church.

Arriving a few minutes early, I strutted over to where our pastor was setting up chairs and struck up a conversation. Purposefully but casually, I mentioned having finished a book he had recommended from the pulpit.  Then, wanting to impress Joe with the quantity and rigor of my deep reading, I preened, just like a peacock. I unfolded for him a few of my favorite authors.

I remained blind to how blatantly I craved his praise until a certain church member arrived, one who likes to show off HER knowledge of learning. Suddenly God reminded me how I don’t like this gal for this very reason. I know, another sin! You can guess what followed next.

“You are the woman!” came a Holy-Spirit insight, recalling Nathan’s confrontation with King David. Shame filled my heart.

It’s been a few weeks and I have already confessed my lack of hunger for God’s praise and received His forgiveness.  But just this past Sunday, my co-teacher for middle school girls’ Sunday School praised me out loud to the gals present.  I piped up, “Suzanne, you don’t know me well enough, yet!” When she objected, I simply mentioned my pride which shows itself in boasting.

Now, to this morning. The first truth above in John 5:44 popped up in an old prayer that came up in my Prayermate app. This verse punched me in the gut, for Jesus calls craving the approval and praise from man – UNBELIEF!!

Does that seem harsh? Not to me. I simply felt sadness seeing my appetite for human recognition from God’s point of view – a subtle but ever-present hunger for public recognition.

I know that we believers mingle trust and unbelief in polluted and stained hearts. And that God is working all things, including one’s sin and contrition, for our good, for the purifying of these corrupt, world-focused desires.

Seeing my sin – my boasting, embarrassed me and I felt shame. I had displayed this ugly to my under-shepherd and pastor.

But I thank the Father that He is SO gentle with me. Yes, He rebukes me, but only to cause me to repent and desire to grow more holy, more like Jesus.  I recognize that in my own strength I can’t kill this lust for applause. I even lack the desire to put it to death. So, I join Paul in rejoicing:

But thanks be to God, for….. “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Rom 8:37

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