Living Light

Stirring The Deep


26 Comments

In God’s Strength, Not Ours

In God’s Strength, Not Ours

 

Some time ago, I read a secular book on writing and attended a Christian writers conference within weeks of each other. I’m going to share with you something that greatly impacted me at that time to remind us of who we are in God and what we have.

What struck me was that the advice from those at the conference and from the author of the secular book was basically the same. Everything about becoming a successful writer stemmed from you and your strength, not God. Why was there no difference? Aren’t Christians to be living in God’s strength, not man’s? Then why was the counsel the same?

Many Christians are living like mere men. God calls us to live in His strength and that shouldn’t look the same as the world’s ways, should it? I speak to myself as a reminder as much as anyone else. There is a better way to live, so why settle?

When you dive into the Bible, what you find is a description of a life with God that varies from what the world offers. Below are some elements of our lives when we are living in His strength:

  • We work in situations beyond our capabilities.
  • We are not limited to what we know; we are limited to what God knows, which has no limit.
  • God accomplishes a lot with a little.
  • God moves in the hearts and minds of others to accomplish His will in our lives.
  • God uses ordinary people to accomplish mighty works.
  • We work yet at the same time rest, because it is His power working through us.
  • We often work in areas or in ways that are specifically our weaknesses so we learn to trust Him.
  • We are prospered beyond our own capabilities.
  • We are asked to do something for which we aren’t prepared.
  • We don’t endlessly strive.
  • Our efforts don’t equal our returns – they equate to God’s work in us, which is much more.
  • There is no rat race in God’s Kingdom.
  • There is balance, rest and satisfaction.

I’m sure there are many more but these came to mind. Each scenario above creates an opportunity for the power of God, not man, to be displayed. God revealing Himself to the world through us is what our lives are about. And that means we will be living beyond our capabilities in many ways – it is uncomfortable and glorious all at the same time.

If you look at the characters in the Bible (Peter, Paul, Daniel, David, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, the prophets) they had one or more of these aspects. Their lives showed the strength of God, not the power of man. Often times they got scared, doubted, questioned, but they pushed forward with God.

Makes you think . . . what does your life show? What will be the story of your life? What would it read if it was in the Bible? What does it tell the world about who and what you REALLY trust?

For the child of God, there is a new way of life. Often God puts us in situations beyond our abilities so we can learn to trust Him. Our trust isn’t in our talents, skills, or gifts, how many extra hours we work, or if we did all the necessary preparations. It’s in God’s ability, power, and strength, because we are here for His glory not ours. In Him, we do what we never could. That is our life.

Running the rat race like the rest of the world isn’t for us. Nowhere in the Bible do I find that to be the case. Look at the Israelites. God established their life full of celebrations and feasts. I have never seen a group of people rest so much and yet accomplish what they did. God provided for their physical needs. He defeated enemies far stronger. He guided them and instructed them in every facet of life. They were living a life that was impossible in their own strength and God was glorified. However, our lives also aren’t about sitting around – but following His lead and moving forward in His strength.

Striving, toiling, and living by the same rules as the world – what is the difference then? What is the abundant life that God brought to us in Christ? His life consumes ours and that means everything changes. Yes we work but it is in a different strength. It isn’t our work, but His in us.

I know it can be extremely uncomfortable living beyond yourself. You aren’t in control so at any moment it feels like things could turn for the worse. Because of this discomfort, we often give into the fear and hold back from moving forward into what God has laid on our hearts. Like Moses, we are full of buts and what ifs. Exodus 3:11, 4:1, 4:10, 4:13. It isn’t easy to live in His strength, to make that leap and let go of what we have always trusted in. It takes time. If it was easy we would all be there. But God is offering us a much better way to live. I’ve tasted it. If we feast on His pure Word and seek to do it His way, then He will show us the way and give us the faith to live as He ordained – in abundant life, in His presence. If this life is your desire, then step out and follow Him beyond your strengths into His. Pray to let go of the control and to have a peace about it – God is driving now.

Psalm 21:13 “Be exalted, O Lord, in Your own strength! We will sing and praise Your power.”

Bookmark and Share


19 Comments

A Message from the Ants: The Well Travelled Path

A Message from the Ants:

The Well Travelled Path

 

Recently our house was invaded by tiny little creatures who absolutely amaze me in their focus, determination and perseverance. They do a lot of work for their size. Their work is organized and fairly efficient. There are some who stray off the trodden path. I found wanders climbing on the stove, swimming in the honey, and exploring the tub. But for the most part the majority is disciplined in their efforts to gather food and carry it back to the colony. They are an impressive creation.

As these little guys started to take over, we decided to intervene – though they were proving to be captivating entertainment for my cats. After being carefully observed, some ants would meet their demise under a furry paw poking and prodding at them.

We strategically placed traps, which looked like little houses, for them to crawl into full of tasty sweet liquid. One then two would find this magnificent oasis then tell the others. Before long the traps overflowed with feasting ants. Little did they know it was the drink of death despite its tasty flavor swirling in their mouths. Proud in their discovery, they carried this sweet death back to their colony. The next couple of days the number of ants tripled, quadrupled, sextupled into these little houses. But as the days passed, the black lines traveling back and forth began to wane and day by day more and more disappeared until there were none.

Truly I don’t like killing these little creatures, but when they start climbing over the keyboard, on my hand, in my tea cup, it is time to put an end to the madness. I wish I could become on of them for a just a day to tell them to go find food somewhere else, but we have our limitations.

As I watched these ants this past week in their diligent pursuit, it brought to mind a far more serious image.

Sometimes our intentions can be quite good but we are loyally headed on a path that leads to death. We are focused, diligent, and faithful and believe we are gathering the best food for ourselves and those we love – but it is the food of death. We are trying to do our best but we are on the wrong path. Proverbs 7:25-27

Let me explain. In these days, the last days, the Word vehemently warns us that deception grows worse and worse. Matthew 24:11. Deception is what we hold as truth, which is really a lie. False prophets are deceiving many. Their deception is becoming so extensive and sly that if given enough time even the elect would be deceived. Matthew 24:24 Think about that for a minute.

The church system is like the poison liquid traps. For some that analogy may be overwhelming to consider. But after reading, asking and praying over God’s Word for years this message has only grown stronger and others are hearing the same thing. The time is upon us where the enemy is taking over the sanctuary, the house of God, the church system. Lamentations 2:7, 4:12, Jeremiah 7:30. Satan is smart. The traps don’t look evil but good, nourishing, fulfilling – the worst kind of evil and deception there is because people believe they are on a good path.

I feel this message strongly upon me and out of my love for others I am sharing it but . . . it is hard. I know how much the church system means to many of you. But if you were enjoying a great time visiting with friends and I knew there was a fire consuming the building I would tell you. I’m compelled to repeat the warning that Jesus gave us – look out for the deception it will be extensive and the ultimate ruse because it could mislead even the elect! Matthew 24:4 Get out while you still can. Matthew 24:15-17, Rev 18:2-4.

What the church system offers seems wonderful, good, tasty, healthy, but it leads to death because it is putting a barrier between people and God and His truth. People go to church thinking they are drawing closer to God but the institution erects itself inbetween a deep relationship between them and God. Though they speak of God and the Bible, the truth is twisted just enough to make it a lie – a lie that kills. Not all do this intentionally. But regardless if the intention is good or bad – the result is the same. People look to the church to provide and protect – not God. They look to the church to be fed – not God. They lack a real love for the truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:10 And this misplacement of trust leads to their downfall. Many have good intentions, but they are headed down the wrong path. Over and over God tells us what is to come. We need to start seeking truth and get out of our habitual ways of walking the well travelled path.

I won’t mislead you – it is hard, very hard to leave what has been engrained in you that you should do. And there are additional reasons it is hard – some I’ll talk about in my video to follow where I share part of my story. Unfortunately, easy was never a word used by Jesus, the prophets, or apostles to describe these times. There are hard choices we have to make – some which will bring persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12-17

The GOOD NEWS is God is calling out to His people. He is gathering them together under His wing through His Word. He is revealing Himself in powerful ways to those who seek Him. He is connecting believers outside of the church system. He is providing and protecting those who come to Him. He is feeding from the greenest of pastures – out of His hand. He is the Great Shepherd. He is the sanctuary that can’t be corrupted. He is doing something new and those who seek will find it. It is a tremendous time to be cultivating a real and deep relationship with God.

Many are faithfully committed to their church because that is what they’ve always done. It is the trodden path. Have you gotten into the habit of thinking you must go to church because that is what a good Christian does? Now is the time to deeply question and seek God’s truth about where He wants you. We are so quick to rationalize, justify and excuse – but what does His voice say? His Word tells us what will become of the house called by His name. Listen to His Words, heed His warning.

Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Bookmark and Share


13 Comments

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People? (II)

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People?

Part Two

In my previous post on Monday, I talked about the “good people” aspect of this question. Today I address the “bad things”. To subscribe to my videos go to my Youtube Channel, Stirring the Deep.

1 Peter 1:6-7 “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ”

Bookmark and Share


12 Comments

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People? (I)

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People?

Part One

Below I share some of my thoughts on why bad things happen to good people. I’ll post the second half on Wendesday.

Bookmark and Share


13 Comments

WHY Christians Live with a Dual Nature?

WHY Christians Live with a Dual Nature?

 

God, I did it again – I was pushover and let others walk all over me. Why do I have to be so weak? What am I afraid of? Change me! I don’t want to do this anymore! It hurts me and others so why do I still struggle with this? Why, why, why?

Have you ever felt like this? Wondering why you continue to struggle with a certain part of you particularly when it hurts you and others? These unwanted aspects of us are of our flesh nature (our self-will in rebellion to God’s will). When we are born into this world we are spiritually dead because of sin that separates us from God. When God breathes eternal life into us, a new spirit is born in us. With a new heart, not a changed one, the flesh and spirit co-exist.

In previous posts, Where to Focus – A Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Why Do Christians Seem Two-faced?, I’ve written about the spirit and flesh dynamic. I promised to talk about why we still battle the flesh, when we’ve been given a new spirit. So why does our old nature remain with a wicked heart? Why couldn’t all traces of our old life be gone forever now? Though the source of our old life is dead in Christ its lingering stench remains in our life, why? Galatians 5:24, Romans 7:15-20

There are several reasons. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul was pleading for his weakness to be removed, but God let it remain so that he would learn God’s grace is sufficient. That is one of many reasons. Here are a few more I’ve been thinking about:

Reason 1: God is Glorified

It is God’s purposeful design to have His Spirit in our fallen bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:7 Living with this duality, God shows His power and mercy in the expression of the fruit of the spirit through our lives. God is to be glorified, not us. Aware of our fallen state, when we experience the fruit of the spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, it is truly a glorious thing. It is clearly not of us and to sense the power of God working in us is an amazing gift and testimony to others. Hence, God receives praise and honor for what He as done.

Reason 2: Magnitude of God’s Love

Despite our frame, God’s love is boundless to the extent of making us His children. Romans 5:8 The carnal mind can’t comprehend the things of God. We can only know God if we are born of the spirit. Our flesh remains once we have the spirit of truth so we can clearly see what we were in the flesh. Without the spirit of truth we are blinded to our own depravity. But when we see in the light our wretchedness, His love becomes overwhelming. He loved us so much that He wanted us to be a part of His family so we could spend eternity with Him. He loved us despite how we acted, thought, and rebelled. If we were only spirit we couldn’t understand the magnitude of His love that loves us despite who we were.

In addition, in plainly seeing our wretchedness, we learn His love isn’t based on our actions. His love is unconditional because that is who He is. This lesson is critical to learn in order to have an intimate relationship with Him. Otherwise we think His love is based on the extent of our goodness. With our flesh lingering which deserves no love, His love astounds us. We have never experience unconditional love like we do with Him.

Reason 3: Dependency on God

Without God we can do nothing, but with Him we are complete and perfect. John 15:5 As we live with the two lives in contradiction, we realize how much our flesh is helpless, destructive, and full of death. We start to see the lies we lived by and the death they brought to us and others. Our emptiness and lack becomes undeniable. Along with this new perspective of our old life, we begin to learn about the new life we have in Him; its purity, love, completeness, holiness, peace and joy. The contrast in our lives fills us with gratitude and praise for the tremendous gift He has given us. We begin to comprehend the extent of Christ’s sacrifice, its power and love to give undeserving broken souls beautiful new lives so they no longer have to live in the misery of the old.

Reason 4: Submission to His Lordship

We learn first hand anything that comes from our will leads to death, therefore with each new awareness of the depravity of our flesh we freely submit to His Lordship. With eyes wide open to the contrast of the flesh verses the spirit, each one of us experiences that His ways are better. Learning these truths in the presence of our fallen flesh moves us to choose to yield to His Lordship. God wants us to submit freely, not forced, because that is what true love does. The contrast draws us closer to God; loving Him more for all that He has done and given us. We have to understand the truth of who we are or aren’t and who He is so without reserve we will surrender to Him in love.

There is nothing good about the flesh, but it lingers to teach us many important lessons.

Bit of encouragement

Sometimes we succumb to the rule of our old nature because of spiritual immaturity. We don’t recognize the flesh for what it is, or we are taken off guard and a flesh mindset sets in and takes over. The good news is one we are covered in Christ’s righteousness every moment of every day and two God always provides a way out – prayer. He has given all we need to overcome the flesh – a new spirit, His Word, prayer, and His power. We need to nourish the new spirit, abide in His Word, learn to recognize the flesh, and use the power of prayer given to us in the moment the flesh starts to take over.

When the flesh starts to dominate, we can call upon God and He is faithful to deliver us from ourselves. Sometimes in these moments we might not feel like praying, because the flesh is in rebellion to it, but do it anyway. Prayer is very powerful because through prayer we shift to trusting in His power instead of our own. If we try to overcome our weakness by ourselves we’ll fight a losing battle. God always provides a way out of our temptations. We won’t find the strength in us, but we will in Him, every time.

Bookmark and Share


38 Comments

Why do Christians Seem Two-Faced?

Why do Christians Seem Two-Faced?

Two Face

Scenario One:
A married Christian friend, Sarah, vehemently expressed her disbelief about how a mutual friend of yours could cheat on her husband and claim to be a Christian. The next week you are out with some friends and Sarah starts flirting with another man.

Scenario Two:
You’re out one night with some friends, and your married Christian friend, Rebecca, starts flirting with another man.

These two women, Sarah and Rebecca, represent the two definitions of being two-faced.

Two-faced (adj)

1. The first definition is hypocritical or double-dealing; deceitful. It is the definition we most commonly associate with this term and is represented by Sarah. She claimed one thing then did another.

2. The second definition is literally having two faces or surfaces. True Christians have two conflicting natures – one driven by their flesh one driven by their spirit – in a sense two faces. This is represented by Rebecca. She didn’t claim one thing then do another, so she wasn’t being hypocritical. What we saw was the face of her flesh.

Christians who are two-faced in regards to the first definition are those who aren’t Christians and say they are or those who think or claim they are “good”.

We all understand hypocrisy, but what we often misunderstand are those who fall under the second definition.

This post touches upon an area that is often misunderstood in Christianity– even among Christians. How often have we heard from other Christians something like- “I can’t believe she did that – and she is a Christian!”

Battle between the flesh and spirit

In a previous blog, Where to Focus – A Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I talked about the battle authentic Christians face between the flesh and spirit. The more I abide in God’s Word the more the dissonance between my flesh and spirit becomes apparent. It is a strange phenomenon living with this duality. And one that people can’t understand if they have never experienced it. This is why many non-Christians can’t understand why Christians are so faulty. How can we talk about this new life and yet do things so contrary? How can we talk about the love of God in our lives and yet do something so utterly unloving?

The reason is we are living with two wills – one of the flesh and one of the spirit. (flesh being our self-will and spirit being of the will of God) Sometimes the one we don’t want, the flesh, is the one that shows up in situations. Romans 7:15-25 We do what we don’t want to do. When our self-will takes over, then bam we’re critical, inappropriately judgmental, complaining, hurtful, selfish, passive, prideful, arrogant, and so on.

If you are truly a Christian you don’t want to do these things, but you do and a lot more often than you want to. Growing in the spirit life takes time. It is a journey. God designed it this way for several reasons that I’ll address in a later blog.

In the beginning, Christians understand their corrupted nature. It is this awareness that helps them to grasp the meaning and purpose of Jesus’ sacrifice. However, immediately after the awareness of a new life – sometimes it’s assumed that they are supposed to be immediately good. I don’t believe it works that way. It is a process.

The spirit starts small in us like a baby – it takes time for the spirit to grow. It takes time abiding in God’s Word, which is the nourishment for our spirit. (Which few truly do.) If we don’t abide, then our spirit stays weak and the flesh dominates. It takes years for our spirit to grow even with proper nourishment – like it does a child. As we learn and grow throughout our entire physical lives, so do we in our spiritual lives. We will never walk perfectly in the spirit while living in these physical bodies. So there will always be a falleness about us. But if we nourish our spirit, it will grow stronger and over time we live more in the spirit than in the flesh. 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

No One is Good

Usually our judgment of goodness is based on each other. Well I’m better than him! I’m better than most! I’m a pretty good person! But God views goodness from His goodness. And that is the goodness I’m talking about. No one is good against the standard of a holy, pure and perfect God. That is why God gave us Jesus Christ to stand in our place. He judges our goodness against true goodness – not our definitions which vary person to person. And His judgment is the only one that matters.

We would do ourselves a huge favor by removing this misnomer of goodness. Any true goodness is of God and God working in us. It is all Him. John 15:5

Being Hypocritical

If we accept the praise of goodness from others or call ourselves or anyone else good we are being hypocritical and fall under the first definition. Then we are being a poor witness to the truth that no one is truly good but God.

Matthew 19:17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

I love this verse because it lays it all out. We aren’t good. We enter eternal life not by our goodness, but by Christ’s. One of His commandments is to trust in His righteousness not our own. If we trust in our own, we will be judged by our own, and in the eyes of a holy God we don’t have a chance of standing for a second.

When you see Christians acting “out of line” – don’t be so quick to judge. We are to help one another not stand pointing a finger. It is a struggle for all of us. And the closer you draw near to God and His purity the more you see yourself as you are without Him, wretched, and the more understanding and compassion you will have for the struggle of others. God is judge. We are to encourage and exhort each other not because it is about being good, but when we walk in His commands and wisdom we walk closer with Him and experience more of the abundant life He came to give and His power is shown to the world.

Bookmark and Share