From just off the shores of Lake Erie, I send you greetings! Once again, I hope you are found to be well and if things could be better for you I send my prayer covering. I know that may just sound like a bunch of idle words to score some points, but I promise that they are not. Quite often I pray for my readers and if I happen to log on and see that someone is currently on the blog I will go to the Lord in prayer for you and speak blessings over you. I hope you do the same for me when you are here and if there is something that I write which you don't agree with, we should pray about that, too. We should always ask God for more insight and wisdom and if our understanding needs to be clearer or change then let it be so. I learned several years ago that if I'm not willing to change then I'm not willing to grow! That's how we strengthen our community of believers. Anyway, I sure am glad you are here!!!!!!!
I've been slowly reading the book of Romans lately. This is a book which you just can't rush through, especially those first 5 chapters or so. I wouldn't encourage the brand new believer to read Romans right away, but there is so much to be gleaned from Paul's letter to the believers in Rome. There are so many golden nuggets along the way.
As seems to be the case more often than not anymore, last night I slept for a couple of hours and woke up. Instead of fighting to go back to sleep (which is a fight that I usually lose) I stumbled out to the kitchen table and began to read. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." (Romans 8:1, NKJ) (Before I go on, I do want to mention that if you have a NIV Bible, the verse ends with "....who are in Christ Jesus." Some of the earlier manuscripts did not include...."who do not walk according to the flesh......." With that noted, however, I do feel that much personal growth can be obtained by the verse as it is found in the NKJ.) Now before I could get to verse 2, something struck me about that verse that made me think about it a little more deeply than I ever had. We use the first part of that verse quite often to encourage a believer who doesn't feel worthy of God's love; maybe has admitted that they sinned or messed up. Even though God forgives, they still don't feel clean. It is and rightfully so, one of the most well loved verses in the Bible. What struck me last night, though, was the second half of that verse in the NKJ. "......who do not walk ACCORDING TO THE FLESH, but ACCORDING TO THE
SPIRIT." Wow, that is good stuff to think on. We easily love the first part of the verse. After all God is allowing us to benefit from His most magnificent grace in doing something for us. The second half of that verse though, I can do something for myself which will bring me closer to my Lord, build up my inner man and allow me to reap even more of His benefits. I started thinking about why we do what we do; the choices that we make and are they choices driven from flesh or from the Spirit? Now I'm not talking so much about the things in life that we do for enjoyment or leisure. God wants us to enjoy life and have things like that. An example for me would be taking my family to a Pirates or Indians game, or because of the time of year it is, a Pittsburgh Penguins (who by the way will be the 2010/2011 Stanley Cup Champions even if they are off to a slow start) hockey game. As we live for the Lord, He wants us to do things that as His children we will just simply enjoy. God wants you to enjoy life, so if you're not, GET TO IT!!!!!!! :)
As I read that verse last night, I began thinking about decisions we make that can hinder, or slow down our walk and growth in Christ. I'll give you an example and being of the male gender, I will give you probably one of the best examples that men need to be reminded of (let the wives and girlfriends now rejoice.....ha ha ha). Here we go. GUYS; if we are walking according to the Spirit and NOT the flesh, it means that when an attractive woman is walking down the sidewalk on the other side of the street, you DO NOT allow your eyes the "fleshly" pleasure of glancing her way a second or third time! Even though your thoughts were hopefully pure when you first saw her, a second look could give foothold to not so pure thoughts. If a not so pure thought would set in, we all know that lust is a work of the flesh. We know that lust is a work of the flesh, because we know that Galations 5:19 reads: "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery (Jesus addressed the heart issue with that), fornication (sexual immorality), uncleanness.........................."On the other hand, SELF CONTROL is a fruit of the Spirit. (See Galations 5:22-23) That is just one easy example of flesh vs. Spirit.
Ladies, don't think for one minute that you are off the hook. Now let me go after you!.......Oh, on second thought, never mind. At 48 I've learned enough to know that you don't make unwise choices that could cut your life short!!!!! :)
Even though I am feeling very light hearted and find myself laughing a bit as I write this, I think that Lord gave me a pretty solid teaching to share last night. We all need challenged when it comes to things of the flesh. We all have areas to improve on. Tempers, selfishness, laziness, jealousies, gossip and impure thoughts are just surface scratching. If we can keep these things of the flesh under the control of the Spirit, Jesus keeps drawing us in even closer to Himself! It opens up the floodgates for the Holy Spirit to keep blessing us with more insight and wisdom. It also allows us to live a life that will become compelling to people around us. We will be like magnets to people who need encouragement, or a word from the Lord. People who need the Savior, accepted and loved for who they are. I think this is why Paul said, "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified" in his letter to the Corinthians. In other words, Paul didn't want to be a hypocrite. Walking in the Spirit keeps that from happening.
I have to share a personal experience with you which I'm sure will bring future victory celebrations. One day not too long ago, probably within the last couple of weeks, I was having kind of a "down" day. I was off my game a little bit and either the devil or one of his henchmen thought it would be a good time to take advantage of me. Suddenly I found myself faced with some tempting thoughts. Well, the plan backfired. I cast them aside and rebuked the enemy. As I was about to just move on with the day, God stopped me and this is what I heard! "Oh no, no, no, no you don't. You need to stop and celebrate what just happened. Do you remember times when you gave in to temptations and then badly beat yourself up for giving in? Now celebrate this victory." And then I had a picture of God rejoicing over me which completely changed my outlook for the rest of the day. I think God is weary watching His kids get swallowed up in that "I'm just a wretched sinner" mentality. It was pretty significant for me to hear God say, "YOU badly beat yourself up." I was doing the beating, not God. If you need to be forgiven of something, God is pleased to give it and then wants you to move on and become a better person for that gift of grace. I'm sure He trusts that you learned from your mistake and will not do it again. God doesn't have us as His children to constantly beat us up. He loves us. If I was constantly ripping on Matthew and beating him up I would be arrested for child abuse. God would NEVER be arrested for child abuse. He is Abba, Father, Papa!
I tell you that story to encourage you, just in case while reading this you thought of an area in your life where you have failed and the devil is trying to condemn you. Hey, I know it happens. I want you to start thinking about the times when you have pleased the Father. When you have overcome evil with good. When you have "done unto the least of these." satan condems; God brings grace and forgiveness. Rejoice today! Celebrate the life you have in Christ. You have destiny and purpose! Jesus has chosen YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That my friend, makes you a history maker! Now, don't you dare leave this blog without listening to the words of the Hillsong video that comes right after I say goodbye. As you allow the words to absorb into your heart, this song will allow our Lord to dance over YOU with singing. Oh how I hope to preach on that Zephaniah 3 passage one day soon. Also, while you are listening, you can scroll down to the "Think Tank" and feed my fish. They are feeling hungry and neglected.
God is dancing over you today! He has saved you! "He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." (Zephaniah 3:17, but make sure you get your Bible and read that entire glorious passage beginning with verse 14 and finishing with verse 20. It parallels our Romans 8:1 verse incredibly!) God is passionately in love with you.
If today you have never said "Yes" to Jesus, today is your day! Salvation has come to your door.
For the prize,