Living Light

Stirring The Deep


4 Comments

Making Cookies & Worship of Our Work

Making Cookies & Worship of Our Work

Don’t let the picture fool you, this is a VERY IMPORTANT truth to understand.

 

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

There is a saying around our house when we think we are doing anything to “help God out” that reminds us it’s all Him and nothing of us; we’re just making cookies. Anything “good” or “useful” we do for God is Him working in and through us and not us at all.

As a young girl, I loved helping my mom bake cookies; especially my much needed role as taster <smiles>. In my young mind, I believed I was a much greater help than I actually was. It was ALL my mom’s doing. Yet, my mom graciously allowed me to delight in the fun of baking with her. She gave me little tasks to do like stirring the ingredients together, which she always gave a few extra swirls. Yet to me, I was making some of the best cookies in the world!

She encouraged me in “helping” her because it was a wonderful bonding time for the both of us. She wanted me to “help”, but it wasn’t for my amazing assistance but because she loved me and took pleasure in making them together and seeing my joy in playing a part.

We are like the child who is helping their mom make cookies. We don’t do anything of good on our own; it’s all God. He lets us take part because it’s a delight to Him and us. We are able to do what we do because He is governing, directing and performing all things for us. We can’t throw God off; we won’t mess up His plans; and He works out all perfectly. In every action and word, as His offspring we can trust He is faithful in directing and using us according to His ways, which are not our ways.

Psalm 138:8 The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

Establishing our own Righteousness 

Romans 10:3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.

“Making Cookies” serves to remind us, we are not to be crafting our own righteousness, because we can’t. A twisted truth derived from the religious community is how we serve God. We want to be serving, working and doing for God because deep down it makes us feel like a better person; which is establishing our own righteousness. Instead of wholly relying on the righteous of God to fill and govern our lives, we are relying on ourselves.

Worshipping the Work of Our Hands

Isaiah 2:8 Their land is also full of idols; They worship the work of their own hands, That which their own fingers have made

This mentality leads to worshipping the work of our hands. It’s looking to our ability; as in to provide, protect, heal, redeem, teach, and fix situations; the essence of self-reliance, self-sufficient, being in control and independence. Matthew 7:22-23, Proverbs 14:16

Our Part: Abide

John 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

God is spirit. We are flesh and spirit. To experience God in the flesh, we have to allow our spirits to be united, influenced and governed by Him. When we do, His nature manifests in our lives in the forms of peace, rest, power, joy, blessing, and righteous love.

Our part is to abide in unity with God. In fellowship with God that leads to unity, we are listening, obeying and gaining trust to relinquish all control to God’s ways and work. As our self-will steps aside, He runs our souls and lives. We cease to judge and work and He governs.  If I didn’t bake cookies with my mom, then I wouldn’t have taken part in that bonding time with her or the fruit of our interaction, yummy cookies. God moves through us. But any goodness or good works are of Him, not us. Big difference. Are you getting it?

Rest is Power

Psalm 57:2 I will cry out to God Most High, To God who performs all things for me.

Being attached to the vine and God moving through us as He wills is central to abiding in His rest. Hebrews 4:9-11 At rest, our self-will is nullified, and God’s will is ruling. We cease from our works and God works. In this rest, the power of God flows.

You see the true power of God, when you stop efforting and let Him work. To be governed (also used by) by God is to let go of all control, and let God determine each step; steps often counter to what you, religion, or the world would dictate. It’s letting go of all images of who and what you should be doing, and let God direct you daily. It’s following His still small voice, daily. Your life is His venue to work as He wills in you and others. In this our lives become a living sacrifice. Romans 12:1 In this state, we lack the awareness of what our left hand is doing from the right. Becuase its not us, but God.

Matthew 6:3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

This framework removes self-righteousness, because you aren’t doing anything but obeying His voice. It removes fears that you aren’t doing enough or did or said the wrong thing. In this truth, our hearts overflow with peace, praise and joy. So delight in making cookies and don’t make any more of it.


11 Comments

Are You Spirit-Minded Or Flesh-Minded?

Are You Spirit-Minded Or Flesh-Minded?


Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

 

What is spirit-minded versus carnal or flesh-minded?

The flesh is our self-will and all that it produces and manifests. It’s our self-created values, idols, and philosophies. It’s what we trust and hope in other than God’s truth. It’s the outcomes of corruption that come from following the flesh. Gal 5:19-21 It’s defining and creating our own goodness and righteousness. Isaiah 64:6 It’s based in fear. 2 Timothy 1:7 It’s everything derived from following self and the elements of the world created by self, versus God. Thus, the flesh-mind is one consumed and governed by self and the corresponding beliefs.

Is your hope in the wisdom of mankind? What do your actions show? Do you have a fear of man? Do you strive to please others? To please yourself? If so, your god is man. You serve mankind, and have a flesh-mind, which end is death. We’ve all been there at one point, but it’s not where we are to stay. Galatians 1:10

The spirit is what is of God. It’s knowing God’s truth and living the outcomes of it. Galatians 5:22 It’s a state of peace, rest, love and delight. It’s trusting in God in all things so you enter into a state of internal and external rest in all things. (The rest allows God’s spirit to move through you as He wills, like a leaf directed by the wind. Rest is a testimony of trust.) Hebrews 4:11 It’s becoming like a child who trusts his Father’s complete protection, provision, love and care and therefore lives in delight and in the desires of his heart. Psalm 37:4-5 Mark 10:15 It’s giving over all judgment to God to decide what is good and what isn’t, thus letting Him direct your life. John 5:30 It’s owning Christ’s righteousness and walking in it. When we are spirit-minded we have a mind like Christ, surrendered to God’s will, filled with God’s truth, and governed by the Spirit of God. Galatians 2:20, 2 Corin 5:17

Do you have a fear of God? Do you care about what He thinks above others? Are you seeking and moving into His will in all areas of your life? Is your trust growing in Him? Then you are on the path of being spirit-minded.

Galatians 5:24-25 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish

To be spirit-minded, the flesh has to be destroyed. To remain flesh-minded is death because it’s counter and in opposition to God, who is life.

How do you know you are spirit-minded or flesh-minded?

What do you think about most of the day? What do you talk about? Who do you serve? What do you meditate on? Where do you put your hope? In what/who do you trust? What consumes your time? What do you put first on your list? Who has taught you the beliefs you live by? From who have you gained the “wisdom” you live by? Psalm 1:1-3, 2 Corin 1:12

These answers will tell you who/what owns your mind, the flesh or the spirit. Who/what owns your mind, owns you. We start out imprisoned by a flesh-mind that leads us down paths of destruction and death, but the TRUTH came to set us free.

Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

Which are you cultivating?

Galatians 6:8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life

Because what you believe and focus on you create as a creative being made in the image of God, if you are focusing on and sowing a flesh-mindset, then you are creating corruption leading to death. If you are sowing a spirit-mind, then you are reaping eternal abundant life.

What do you sow? Who do you listen to? What do you read? What do you seek? How do you spend your time? Are they in accordance to the wisdom of mankind or the wisdom of God? Do you know the difference? The flesh-mindset is far more enveloping than most realize. In recent weeks, my eyes have been opening to its pervasiveness. It’s everywhere. 2 Corinthians 13:5

When we sow to the flesh, we search out answers and solutions from mankind’s intellect and wisdom, even in spiritual matters. 1 Corinthians 3:19 If you trust others to teach you about God, you are sowing to the flesh, because you are putting your trust in mankind. Do you see? In everything we are to seek the truth and wisdom of God, because that of the world is a twisted, corrupted, opposing and degenerate version of true wisdom.

When we sow to the spirit, we seek truth from God, we are taught by Him and not by man. 1 Corinthians 2:13-14, John 6:45 We seek to know the truth in all things, we have a love for THE Truth. 2 Thess 2:10. (How to Seek the Kingdom of God)

Gaining a spirit-mind and leaving the flesh mind behind is a journey. When you are on the right path you know it because your life is a testimony to you.


20 Comments

A Look of Love

A Look of Love

1 Corinthians 16:14 Let all that you do be done with love.

Here is a little something – simple and straightforward and yet so powerful – that God has been bringing to my attention lately – the look of love.

There is so much in a look. Sometimes far more than words and actions, for a look or the eyes reveal the heart. Others can usually sense what we are feeling. (Blog post on this topic) They may not know exactly what it is we think and feel, but they can usually sense the nature of it and our eyes are a big part of revealing that because they reveal our heart.

How many times have people been saying and doing one thing and yet their eyes say something completely different? How many times have we done that?

The look of . . .

Fear of what others think of you
Competition with others
Judgment on who others are or what they do
Jealousy for what others have
Lust for others
Arrogance that you are better in some way
Pride in who you are
Nothing in that you feel nothing – don’t care
Neglect in that you don’t really notice others
Control of others, their emotions, or actions
Disgust in who others are or what they do
Disappointment in who others are

But our desire should be to give a look of love, always.

A change in look comes from a change on the inside. I’m finding that as the Spirit grows me in God’s love – the looks I give are starting to come from a place of love. You can’t give what you don’t have. And the only real love there is is from God. And only by being united to Him in truth and spirit can you know and give His love, thus truly a look of love.

God’s love entails truth, compassion, openness, and sincerity. It expects nothing in return. It is active not passive and engaging not distant. When we know and have His love then it fills our heart, thus our words and actions and looks. Not that we will always look in love, because the flesh is still with us for the time. But as we gain a deep knowing of God’s love a shift takes place – where the flesh decreases and the spirit that holds God’s love increases, thus we see less of the former and more of the later.

What do your looks entail? For your family, spouse, children, strangers, co-workers, fellow believers, friends?

It is a tremendous prayer of a child to God to seek to know and to give the love of God because when we have His love in us it flows out of our lives into the lives of others in all sincerity.

Luke 11:34 The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness.

Bookmark and Share


23 Comments

Reworking our Mindsets to be Spirit-Led

Reworking our Mindsets

to be Spirit-Led

 

For the past couple of months the Holy Spirit has been teaching me various mindsets to have in order to be able to listen and follow to Him throughout the day. When we learn to listen and follow the Spirit, our lives become truly powerful as we are consciously connected to Him, operate according to His will not ours, and act in His strength not ours.

Celebrate Each Day

The first mindset the Spirit taught me is to celebrate each day because it’s the only one we have. We will never have the opportunities we have today to love, give, learn, impact someone’s life and so on. We are to enjoy, embrace, and share what we have been given. We can’t go back and repeat a day, what we make of it is what it will forever be, and what we do today affects tomorrow. When you consider the impact and finality of a day, it’s amazing most of us live like we can repeat them. Today is what’s real, which leads me to the next lesson learned.

Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 118:24 This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Stay in the Day

In my early twenties I tried to live by the phrase, live in the moment. Back then, it meant to enjoy each day and not get caught up in the past or future. But the Spirit’s recent instruction brought a bit of a different slant and importance to this mindset. When we are in the moment or stay in the day, as a friend calls it, we are more connected to the Spirit because that is where the Spirit is, therefore that is how we have a spirit-lead life. When our mind is elsewhere we aren’t engaged with Him and not listening to His voice and instruction, which is what we need to live by. 2 Corinthians 10:5, 1 John 2:27

The past is done and the future is unknown, but many of us live in one or both of these places mentally and emotionally. The past does affect our current moments because what we experienced and choose put us where we are today, but too often we are bounded by it. And one common way is through un-forgiveness. For years I had un-forgiveness in the form of “justified anger and pain” from things that happened in the past; it plagued my days sucking true life from them. When we don’t forgive someone and harbor ill-will against them, then that affects our current decisions, mindset and health. Un-forgiveness is a thief of life, freedom and joy. But how do we forgive truly? For many years I wanted to forgive but couldn’t. We forgive by the power of God working in us. As I cried out to God, He brought forgiveness into the depths of my soul, it was a process.

Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,

The flip side is dwelling in the worries of an unknown future. (Blog I wrote on worry, Irrational Worry )We get caught up in worry about what might happen that we live this present moment in a future that doesn’t exist and that also is a rancid thief. There is a balance between being responsible and making good decisions that affect the future, and being consumed with worry about it. The former comes from a mindset of trust the other from fear. To overcome consuming worry requires trust in God, the One who is sovereign over everything. Trusting God is the fruit of cultivating a relationship with Him. Only by spending time getting to really know Him, can we truly trust Him. When we do the worry begins to cease and trust takes over; trust in Him, His love for us and His promises. We need to be listening to the Spirit, not worrying.

Matthew 6:24 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

When we stay in the day, then we can attune to the Spirit’s active leading. When we engage Him it changes what happens in our lives as His direction is perfect and complete for us. Take time to invite the Spirit into your thought processes.

Mindset of Praise

The third mindset is to be praise-oriented, which means to praise God throughout the day for Him, His promises, the things around us, and so on. This mindset is the ultimate worship of God, because it is real, true, heart-felt, and active.

This mindset isn’t about denial of what’s happening. It’s looking at a situation from a different perspective. For example, many are in the midst of a financial trial. This type of trial is a tremendous test and refinement of trust in God’s ways not ours, His provision, and sovereignty. We can either dwell in the mindset of being frustrated and complaining, or recognize God’s control and work, God taking care of our present needs, and seeking the Spirit’s counsel. Praise isn’t to be forced or contrived, but real. God cares about the heart. And praise without denial glorifies God. It shows we know Him, trust Him that He is faithful to do what He promises. It reveals we understand His perfect love for us and working in our lives. To gain a heart of praise comes from truly knowing Him and trusting in Him and His promises.

When God is our God there is always a reason to praise because of His love and care for us. We may not feel that in the moment, but our feelings aren’t reality. They are the sum of a whole host of things. The truth is the former.

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Connecting the Three Mindsets

A praise mindset helps us to celebrate each day and to stay in the day (so that we can be spirit-lead) because we are aware and thankful for what is right before us. We are outward focused not self-absorbed and therefore more readily available to listen to and be used by God.

Considering these new mindsets, how do you change your thought patterns? Have you ever tried? It’s very difficult on our own. We don’t do it; God does it in us. When God instructs us, and we heed His instruction then He enables us. God rewires our brains. He has done it many times in me. Our part is to pray and keep these truths always before us. Acts 5:32

Through this instruction, I realized how much I’ve missed out on by living in the past or living in the future. I realized how ineffective I’ve been by being absorbed in those and not listening to the Spirit because my mind was busy somewhere else. Those are powerful motivators to drive me forward in what the Spirit has taught me. God is amazing in how perfectly He instructs and leads us to walking in the abundant life He came to give.

These are some powerful New Years resolutions to consider if you’re looking for some.

Bookmark and Share


11 Comments

Lesson in Love from My Cats

Lesson in Love from My Cats

Malcolm & Sophie

The other day during my quiet time – I gained yet another insight from my cats, a lesson in love.

For over 13 years, it was me and my husband – no children, no pets. Then last October we got Malcolm and Sophie. Their addition has brought so much to our home – much more than I ever imagined. I’m surprised at the amount of love and care I feel for them. It was unexpected. I mean they are just cats.

As I was sitting there doing my quiet time with one lying on one side on my notebook and the other on the side next to my Bible, a certain characteristic of love came to mind that I hadn’t really considered before. With that insight, the Spirit took me into a deeper understanding of our purpose and why we were created.

When Malcolm and Sophie came into our home my love expanded. This is what I learned. Our love is like a land mass and as others come into our lives, and as we grow to love them the territory expands. In addition, the love dynamic between me and someone else is unique to us because we are unique. So with each new addition, our love grows in a unique way, just like no plot of land is exactly like another. It’s an incredible phenomenon that I’m finding my words don’t justify in sharing.

This expansion idea of love as well as the uniqueness of love between individuals taught me the deeper truth of our purpose. I’ve believed for several years now that we were created with the purpose to abide with God in love. It is our purpose now and for eternity. 1 Corin 13:8, 1 Corin 13:13 But what I realized is God made us to expand His expression of love. Love is only love when there are different parties involved – ones to give love and ones to receive the love. The more giving and receiving, the more love abounds. So He created us; souls with the ability to embrace His love and love Him in return that the territory of love might be vast and rich with each unique dynamic of love. And not only is the love expressed between Him and us, but us and others. Eternity will be incredible. Consider the most powerful experience of love you have had – then multiply that a hundred fold – that’s eternity with God. Why would you ever want to miss out on it?

Because each one of us has a unique love dynamic with God because we are each unique, we are infinitely valuable and one can’t replace the other. Sophie could never replace Malcolm and vice versa. This distinctive value puts a tremendous value on each one of us not only to each other, but to our Heavenly Father. This individual value is why there is so much rejoicing in heaven over one soul who enters the kingdom of God. Luke 15:3-10 We are irreplaceable. We can’t compare ourselves to others; we are all unique as our creator made us to be. Now if that doesn’t do anything for your self-esteem – nothing will.

Some believe that God created us to worship Him. Worship is a state of the heart. It is the natural response when we are rightly related to Him, including abiding in His love. Therefore it gladdens God’s heart, because it’s the fruit that we know Him and He is first in our lives. But that is only a reflection of our purpose which is to abide with Him in love. Because, I believe we were created for this purpose, it’s our part to foster a relationship of love with Him – love which consists of intimacy, knowing, trusting – for that’s why we are here. If we neglect that engagement we neglect our purpose and His will for us. John 17:23-26

Mark 12:30-31 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

One more point about all this. There is a HUGE difference between loving others and God with our corrupted version of love and the pure love of God. Though our love won’t be as pure as God’s because of the influence of the world’s perverse idea of love, as new creations in Christ we grow more and more in the love of God. One of the many gifts of being His child is that you receive His love to know and to give. As I seek for His love to consume my life, I am finding it’s incredibly more pure and perfect than any rendition of love I previously had or gave. It often amazes me what I feel for others and how deeply I feel it – things I never had before. They aren’t fleeting emotions, but substantive land masses because they are fruit of a new heart created in His likeness.

We settle far too easily for corrupted, perverted, and destructive emotions that we call love. God is offering us a true, deep and real love that is of Him so why settle? We all want love. We all want His love whether we realize it or not. It’s a driving force in our lives. But until we seek and know the love of God as our own, we will experience a great lack in this area. God is offering us the love we deeply desire because He put that desire in us to draw us to Him and to be filled by Him. And only by being deeply connected to Him do we truly know this love to experience and to give others and are able to truly expand our territory of love including to our cats.

“I love my God, but with no love of mine for I have none to give;
I love Thee, Lord, but all that love is Thine, for by Thy life I live.
I am as nothing, and rejoice to be
emptied and lost and swallowed up in Thee” (Madame Guyon).

1 Thessalonians 3:12 “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you,”

Bookmark and Share


13 Comments

Fear Riding on my Shoulders

Fear Riding on my Shoulders

 

This last week as I started to venture down new paths, fear started banging at my back door.

When I examined my heart, I found doubt. I doubted the power of God in my life. Not His power, but in my life in this area. After all He has done . . . after all His confirmations, encouragement and help, I doubted. After all He has done in other areas of my life, which has been truly tremendous, I doubted. Memories of past failures crept into my life. Times where I started something but it never quite made it. Times where I was like a ship prepared to sail but never caught the wind. What if that happened again?

This morning during my quiet time I poured out my heart to God. I laid out my fear before Him and in the stillness and quietness, He spoke to me:

This is not your work it is mine. And I will complete it to the end. Your failures before weren’t failures but were what you needed to go through to come to me. You were always mine, but you didn’t know it. You needed to walk a path that unsatisfied you and left you empty to prompt you to seek me. Don’t fear. I’m with you. Forget the past, push forward with me knowing you don’t walk alone anymore. I’m with you until the end. Don’t give room to this fear. Fill that space with my promises; 2 Corinthians 9:8, Ezra 8:22, Psalm 46:1. Just be who you are and let me do the rest. I will work in and through your life according to my purposes. Walk by my still waters and green pastures and be at rest. You are in a different place now – in my kingdom. Life isn’t like it was before when you walked without me and without my power. Trust me. Walk with me. I will show you my power in this.

With His words filling my ears, I realized my fear wasn’t real. It came from a dead past. When emotions like this arise that aren’t based on truth, it is our enemy warring against us. Whether, it is an external enemy or an internal one, seeking God’s face and truth is the answer. Fear is a successful tactic to keep us from moving forward. Whatever God is calling you to – embrace it as His will that will be done. Fill the spaces of fear with His promises. Don’t let fear keep you from experiencing His power in your life because you listened and followed fear instead of Him.