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Discouragement Reframed

Discouragement Reframed

Mad

Mad

Sad

Sad

Scared

Scared

There is a psychological paradigm that classifies our emotions into four main categories: sad, mad, glad, and scared.

Discouragement falls somewhere among mad, sad and scared.

Mad because life isn’t going as we want, sad because life is failing us, and scared because we feel out of control.

Discouragement seems less like a carnal reaction than say envy, but giving into bouts of frustration puts a wall in the midst of our oneness with God.

Discouragement is unmet expectations. In the mindset of the flesh, we are in control and when things don’t go our way we get frustrated. We expected to be a better person or to act a different way. We expected someone else to respond differently. We expected a situation to turn out one way and it did another. As a result, out of our mouth spew complaints, the fruit of discouragement. Complaining results from our decision that the person, situation, or ourselves should be different at this moment in time. Says who? Us? Are we in charge or God?

This emotion is a hard one to face. We don’t like it when someone tells us we shouldn’t be discouraged. We feel it is justified and unavoidable because of our situations. That life has treated us unfairly so we deserve to be at least a little discouraged. We all go through trying situations, but it is how we respond to those situations that makes the difference between living a life unto God and unto ourselves.

It’s about perspective. A bout of discouragement is the response of our flesh (our carnal self) to a situation that throws us for a loop. Conversely, our spirits (new life born of God) see the same situation as an opportunity to depend upon God, to witness His power, and to learn to live in His strength not ours. The latter perspective infuses truth, power, and hope into what is happening.

The ability to approach a situation with a spirit mindset is based on a deep understanding of who God is and who we are in Him. So, the purpose of tough situations is to deepen our understanding and trust in God. If we respond in faith, He uses them for good to create intimacy and oneness because they increase our trust in Him. When we feel the onset of discouragement, we need to dig deep into God’s truth, our faith, because we are presented with an opportunity to enter into a deeper level of spiritual maturity.

These situations are not only to enhance our faith in Him but our faith is the way out of discouragement. By believing and clinging to our new life, we abandon the flesh mindset leaving it powerless.

Ephesians 4:22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,

Ephesians 4:24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Paul’s phrasing of putting on is an action we do. It suggests we have a choice to make. It is a decision we make at a given moment. But what gives us the ability to make that decision is a lifestyle of being in the Word that increases our knowledge that increases our trust, and creates expereineces to solidify that trust. Then when the moment arises we’ll be able to respond as spirit beings lacking nothing and not mere men.

We will get discouraged. We are growing in the spirit and we aren’t perfect yet, but we are to push forward, renew our minds, and implement the little faith we have to grab a hold of the truth of who He is and who we are in Him. As we do those situations that once caused discouragement will start to manifest praise.


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Christmas – A Revival Celebration

Christmas – A Revival Celebration

 

Recently I read in Plain Truth Magazine an interesting article, Jesus Christ – God Incarnate. It mentioned how originally December 25 was a pagan festival commemorating the birthday of a false sun god. It is believed, the church intentionally selected this day to celebrate Jesus’ birth to counteract the pagan feast of the sun god and turn people to the Son of God. Instead of Christianizing a pagan festival the church established the celebration of Jesus’ birth as a revival celebration.

And who do people remember today, Jesus or this sun-god? Seemed their plan worked.

Yet, interestingly after all this time we still have dual celebrations. One is a secular celebration with Santa Claus, Christmas trees, decorations, giving gifts, etc. The other is the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

I knew about the sun-god, that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th, and the pagan origin of many of the secular festivities and for awhile these facts put a hiccup in my enjoyment of the season. If there was one thing that God didn’t like, it was His people taking on pagan practices as their own because it could lead them to sin. To top it off the description in Jeremiah 10:2-5 sounded like a Christmas tree to me. Whatever happened to being in the world but not of it?

What struck me in this article was the intention of the church – to have a revival celebration not to “Christianize” the pagan festival. What mindset do we hold today as Christians? For years, like most people I saw it as Christianizing something pagan. Therefore, it seemed silly, compromising, not what we should do as a people set apart, and it felt disloyal somehow. So I disengaged to a certain extent from the secular fanfare. (more on this later)

But with this deeper understanding that the intention was a revival celebration . . . my view has started to change. This new awareness infused a new profound joy into everything about the season – it wasn’t about compromise, it was about revival. Compromise dishonors. Revival honors.

Revival is why we celebrate Christ. The word revival suggests new life, new birth, renewal, bring to life someone who once dead. We celebrate His birth and what His birth was the forerunner of, our spiritual birth. Jesus’ birth paints a picture of ours – as He was born of flesh and spirit, we are born of flesh and spirit. Once we are born of the spirit, His life of peace, power, strength, love, mercy, truth, and joy lives in us and gives new life to our mortal bodies. Romans 8:11 We are no longer one of the walking dead, but have become eternal beings experiencing true life. We no longer are who we were; we are free from our past destructive lives and all the pain, sorrow and trouble they manifested. We are no longer mere men but spirit beings having a human experience. 1 Corinthians 3:3

This true life that lives within us is the revival that we bring to each day and what we celebrate this time of year.

As for the pagan festivities. . . as I was praying over this situation I “accidently” read 1 Corinthians 8 when my next reading was 2 Corinthians 8 and it spoke right to my heart. Everything in itself is pure. Romans 14:20 . . . we live with an incredible liberty that the Old Testament folks didn’t have because we have the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. They needed all sorts of rules because they didn’t have the spirit of truth and discernment guiding them like we do. Without this spirit it was easy for them to take on pagan beliefs, so they had to stay away completely.

Pagan artifacts become harmful when people attribute power to them however small. Otherwise they are just a tree or a piece of wood – God’s creation. The pagans put up greenery in their homes this time of year, winter solstice, to protect them from death. They attributed a false saving power to it and that is what is harmful. If I put up greenery in my house – I do it because I think it is something beautiful of God’s creation, nothing more. Nothing is harmful in itself it is what we attribute to it – and from His Word, I believe that is what God doesn’t like.

Most of us don’t attribute power to decorations – that is silly, but what about the gifts we give. If we give gifts to show our “goodness” or to prove our goodness, then we are attributing something more to that act than we should. Or what if we give certain gifts out of pride. All we do should be in love, not for self-glory. Or what if we get caught up in envy and want? Then we are not trusting in God’s perfect provision and we are intermingling with pagan thought practices (thoughts against His will). There are plenty of things during this season to lead us astray in our hearts . . . as with every day. If in our hearts attribute more than we should to things or activities then we are setting them up as idols, otherwise we are free to enjoy. This is one of His many gifts of freedom and joy to us in Christ. 1 Corinthians 6:12

This is a wonderful and joyous time of year where we take time to celebrate Christ and the new life He came to give. I encourage you to infuse a spirit of revival with each gift you give, each family encounter, each party you attend and each decoration you hang. Live in the freedom and newness of life and share that life with others by loving them with His love.


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Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

 

The problem with this statement is there are no good people. Therefore, goodness doesn’t protect us as this phrase implies. I think this is the lesson in the book of Job: not that bad things happen to good people, but that no one is good in the eyes of a holy God so we shouldn’t rely on our perceived goodness. Mark 10:18

In the last chapter, I think the verses Job 42:5-6 reveal what the book is about “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. 6 Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.” Why is Job repenting if he is blameless? Why does he abhor himself if he is one of the most upright men to live?

I believe he finally realized that his goodness and righteousness were nothing compared to a holy God. Instead, we are completely dependent on God’s mercy in every facet of our lives. It isn’t about our goodness because we have none. It is about God’s mercy that covers us. Psalm 33:13-22

The fact that we can never earn our goodness or be truly good is why Christ came. We need someone to stand in our place and do what we never could – fulfill the holy requirements of God. When we accept Christ we accept His life in place of ours. Then God sees us with the righteousness of Christ. It is an incredible sacrifice and amazing gift that affects every area of our lives now and for eternity.

People aren’t divided between good and bad since we all fall short whether feet, inches or centimeters. When we think of “bad” stuff happening, the division lies between those who are God’s people and those who aren’t.

Without God

For those without God in this world (Ephesians 2:12) they are susceptible to the whims of this world, a world governed by evil and death. (1 John 5:19) They suffer by the work of their own hands and by the ways of this world that breed death. Only God is life. Any life apart from Him manifests death despite people trying to convince themselves otherwise.

With God

For those with God, all that happens to them serves the purpose of drawing them closer to Him. Trials, afflictions or sufferings have the ultimate goal of moving us into a more intimate union with God built upon truth and love. God is constantly calling us deeper and deeper into Him. This is why we can sincerely praise God in our troubles, because they aren’t just fostering pain and suffering, they are bringing about newness of life that is united to Him if we are seeking God in them.

God doesn’t want us to remain in these troubled states that is why He promises deliverance from troubles, trials, and afflictions. Yet, difficult times, suffering, and afflictions, have a way of making us call out to God, to trust, to seek Him with passion and fervor in a manner we otherwise wouldn’t do. “Bad” stuff gets our attention, makes us seek, ask, and go deeper into Him and His truth where we find true freedom and deliverance. But for us the bad isn’t bad, it is good if we seek His truth in all things. (Romans 8:28) Even if we are experiencing the consequences of sin, those situations serve the purpose of motivating us to turn from our ways and to His. Only His ways bring life. Everything in our lives is a lesson and an opportunity to draw closer to God if we will seek Him and His truth.

Since God has been the center of my life, my Lord, everything that has happened has brought me closer to Him, which wasn’t the case before. Before I created paths of destruction piling up pain upon pain, now all that happens moves me further into abundant life inside out. Though difficult, hard times have a completely different meaning and purpose. Through them I learn that what I thought was life wasn’t. It was bondage. Then God brings me into true life.

This life isn’t about how good we are; it is about depending and trusting on God’s mercy alone and nothing of ourselves. When we do we will draw near to Him in truth as He desires and our lives will continue to move out from under death and destruction and into life and true abundance.


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Corporate Worship???

Corporate Worship???

 

People talk about needing to be in or part of a church for many reasons and one a often hear is so they can participate in corporate worship, something they feel God has commanded them to do. But what is it that God wants and not what has man engrained in us? I believe God desires worshippers in spirit and truth and it is no longer about a building. John 4:20-24

John 4:23-24 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Worshippers in spirit and truth are those who have a spirit life born of God and those who seek Him to know Him and His ways so they can be united to Him and honor Him in truth.

Spirit

Worship means to bow down with affection. When we bow down before someone we are recognizing their sovereignty in our lives with adoration. Bowing down is turning over our lives to God’s reign and doing it in love. Only those born of the spirit can worship Him because only those of the spirit have surrendered (bowed down) lives to His Kingship.

Once spirit, only when we are dwelling in a spirit-mindset and not a mindset of the flesh can we worship Him. When we live in the spirit we worship Him and when we live in the flesh we don’t. Romans 1:9 The spirit is surrendered to Him; the flesh rebels against Him. Romans 8:7

Truth

Second He calls us to worship Him in truth. If we don’t exert the energy to intimately know Him and to learn His ways, then how can we worship Him? We are praising some image of Him. Our objective is to venerate Him and not our image of who we want Him to be. To suppose He is whoever we want Him to be is nonsensical, then He wouldn’t be God but we would. We all make assumptions and believe things this very moment that aren’t true about God and don’t know the things that are. We stereotype Him; we fit Him into what we can accept, what we want to believe and what fits our lifestyle. But do we accept this lack of truth or do we passionately search for all He is being mindful that there is much more to be gained?

Acts 17:24-25 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;

God is seeking relationships not just creatures to worship Him. Coming to Him in spirit and truth is about being in a relationship with Him. He desires an intimate union with us, our heart engaged with His. When we abide in that union, we worship Him with our lives. We don’t worship by simply singing a song, but with hearts born of Him who abide with Him in truth. All we do in our spirit lives: thoughts, actions, words, songs, and prayers worship Him or not. True worship is a state of the heart. Matthew 15:8

Worship as the Body of Christ

As spirits we make up the temple of God, a temple built without hands that holds the Spirit of God. Those of the spirit are united together because we are of one spirit and our lives worship Him. Wherever we are, we are part of the true church and whatever we do in the spirit we worship God together with the rest of the spirits born of Him. Churches are full of believers and non-believers. Only those who are born of the spirit and abiding in truth can worship God so it isn’t about the physical location, it is about those united together in His spirit worshipping with our lives.

It seems that man’s definition of worship is gathering in a building and singing songs with emotion and God’s definition is coming to Him in spirit and truth as the true temple and worshiping Him with our lives, songs and all.


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Power of Thanksgiving

Power of Thanksgiving

Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

My prayer journal is divided into three parts; praise, prayer and insights. And praise being first is essential.

Each morning, I start with praise – thanking God for all that He has done, for all the ways He has revealed Himself to me, for dwelling in His presence and all it entails. It is overwhelming. When I get to my requests my doubts and wavering have subsided, and I present them with conviction, power and faith that every care is His concern and He will provide in the perfect way and time.

This wasn’t always the case. I used to just start pouring out my heart, but my prayers lack the same confidence and faith. Putting praise first I believe made a significant difference in the impact of my prayers because it altered my mind from a state of lack and need to one of power and faith.

I think this resolve is why we are to make our requests know to God with thanksgiving. When we acknowledge all that He has done and who He is to us then it puts our requests in the right perspective – in the hands of a mighty God who loves us more than we can imagine and who is faithful to the end.

Giving thanks fuels our faith so that when we pray we do so with conviction because we focus our minds on the power and love of God at work in our lives. Faith pleases God because it is acting on our beliefs in God’s wisdom and truth, not this world’s. Faith, our beliefs in motion, is the foundation to everything we do. Faith is the power of our lives. It changes the world around us. When we meditate on what He has done it strengthens our beliefs in Him and the power of our beliefs affect our circumstances. If our faith is weak His power will be weak in our lives, if it is strong He will be strong. Matthew 13:58 Faith is everything. Thanksgiving ignites our faith in our prayers.

As I reflected back on this year, all that God has done my jaw drops. I can’t imagine going through this life without God as so many do. Why would anyone what to? Out from under the lies and control of religion . . . what God desires for us is what we all desire deep in our souls.

Without Him this year I would have missed out on; abiding in His presence on a daily basis, experiencing true, unconditional, and pure love to know and to give, witnessing His work in the lives around me, hearing His voice of counsel, guidance, and comfort, enjoying a stronger marriage, healing in several of my relationships, blessed with new meaningful friendships, being set free from fears, healing inside and out, provision during a trying financial year, protection on many levels, peace through a questionable economy, experiencing an underling rest each day, comfort in my soul in the midst of trials, insights into the truth about me and others, understanding about this world, and on and on.

Reflecting back gives me great anticipation as I welcome each new day, how will I see His perfect love played out today? From a gal who once struggled with depression and questioned why live, meeting the day with excitement and anticipation is amazing.

When our lives our infused with Him, He is glorified.

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