30 Days of Gratitude – Day 9

Today I’m grateful for gratitude!  I find the longer I do this the more I find to be grateful for.  The more I find to be grateful for the happier person I am.

I think that if I practiced this for the rest of my life as a daily act of worship, my whole life would change radically.  Now I’m not saying that I will no longer strugglewith Bi-polar disorder or even GAD (General Anxiety Disorder), since these are chemical mishaps in my brain.  What I am saying is that I could very well live a much happier and if not happy, grateful life if I decided to make this a daily practice even on my bad days.

That’s the challenge being consistent and doing it no matter how I feel.  Looking at what to be grateful for will at the least help to regulate my chemicals some in my mind.  The challenge is when you’re not feeling well choosing gratitude in the face of depression.

As the picture above says choosing my thoughts and choosing gratitude to be the forefront could make a radical difference in the way I live my life and the attitude that I have.  Not just around myself and other people but my attitude towards God and all that He has done and is capable of doing.

I truly think that an attitude of gratitude would stretch my faith and isn’t that always a good thing?  May I encourage you to try it with me?   Let’s not just make this a 30 day deal.  Let’s practice this in our lives as an act of worship on a daily basis.  Then let us see where it takes us.  Please comment back to me and let me know the journey God takes you on.  I promise to keep you posted past November on the journey God takes me on and in thatway we can be of an encouragement to one another.  Isn’t that what the body of Christ is all about anyway?

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Wealth and Christ

Matthew 8:28-34 tells a story of two demon possessed men and of their freedom from that possession and the towns reaction.  This version of the story comes from The Voice Bible which is written in such a way as to tell it as a story.

28Eventually Jesus came to the other side of sea, to the region of the Gadarenes.  There, two men who lived near the tombs and were possessed by demons came out to the seaside and met Jesus.  They were flailing about, so violent that they obstructed the path of anyone who came their way.

Demons (screaming at Jesus): 29Why are You here? Have you come to torture us even before the judgment day, O Son of God?

30A ways off, though still visible, was a large herd of pigs.

Demons: 31If You cast us out of the bodies of these two men, do send us into that heard of pigs!

Jesus: 32Very well then, go!

And the demons flew out of the bodies of the two flailing men, they set upon the pigs, and every last pig rushed over a steep bank into the sea and drowned. 33The pig herders (totally undone, as you can imagine) took off; they headed straight for town, where they told everyone what they’d just seen – even about the demon-possessed men.  34And so the whole town came out to see Jesus for themselves.  And when they saw Him, they begged Him to leave their area.

When confronted with Christ and the miracle He had done for the demon-possessed men, they didn’t welcome Him they did the exact opposite.

The herd of pigs signified wealth.  Often we are asked by God what are we going to do with our finances.  For some this can be a difficult thing.  Possibly you have come about difficult times financially, still setting some aside for the work of God is Biblical.  How much is between your heart and God, the Holy Spirit.  Maybe God has blessed you despite these difficult times and you find it easy to give, praise the Lord.

Perhaps you have great wealth and have been sensing that it was time to share that wealth with others but it has been difficult for you to let go of it.  May I encourage you that there are greater treasures in heaven than you could ever amount for yourself here on earth.  Please listen to that voice prodding you to be generous with what you have.

God has blessed you with the amount of income that He has chosen.  Yes you may be an entrepreneur but it is God who has blessed your business as He has seen fit.  And it is God who will either continue to bless that income or take it away.  His ways are not our ways nor His thoughts our thoughts.  So whether rich or poor be grateful for what you have because God promises to supply all your needs if you seek Him.

Unfortunately this town never got to learn that blessed promise and wonderful joy.  Because when they were faced with the face of the Savior they chose wealth over salvation.  How sad that a whole town could be more concerned with their wealth and all that encompasses than learning about the man that can free men from demon-possession.  One would hope such a miracle would have people asking for more miracles of healing in their lives rather than looking at their pocketbooks and being fearful of what more money this Man might take from them.

This town is the perfect example of how it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.

This town is also a reminder to us who follow Christ to keep our priorities in order.  It is just as easy for us to allow wealth to cause an area of a hardened heart and that gives the enemy a foothold in our life that we don’t want to happen.  We must listen to the Holy Spirit and obey it’s voice when It calls us to action in our giving.

We must only have one Master at all times.  So check yourself and ask God if you are in line with His will in this area.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Who Is Your Identity?

Who are you?  Are you identifying yourself by your profession?  Perhaps you are identifying yourself as a husband or wife and putting everything you have into that relationship.  Perhaps your a mom and you are identifying yourself as a mom or in how your children behave or have matured and grown up?  Are you a student and identify yourself as such? Do you allow your grades to speak for who you are?  If you are identifying yourself in any of these ways or any other way other than in respect to Christ that is not your true identity.

I have mistakenly looked for my identity in nearly all of these except for mom, since God never blessed me with children.  When I was put on disability and lost my identity of a professional and it was very difficult when asked what I do to answer the question.  You see here I was (if I remember correctly) in my early 30’s and out of the workforce.  What was to be my identity?

I have had and continue to have the identity of daughter and sister but that never seemed enough.

When I went into early retirement as was suggested to call it by some, I became a student and although I love learning and am fairly good at it.  This too was not enough.

Actually being put on disability was a blessing because I had been so busy with work that I hadn’t realized how empty I was.  It was sometime after that and not without heartache and dealing with my pride that I came to realize that my identity comes from Christ and being in Christ.

Galatians 3:26-29 says this about our identity;

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior your identity belongs to Christ.  As you can see in Galatians 3:26-29 we who have been baptized into Christ have clothed ourselves with Christ.  It is Christ in us that the world must see and who we must identify ourselves with.

As the scripture says there is no distinguishing among us. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.”  In today’s terms: Their is neither Baptist nor Methodist nor Lutheran nor Evangelical nor Charismatic nor Catholic, poor nor rich, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  There also isn’t doctor nor plumber, teacher nor homemaker, wife nor aunt, student nor retired.  There are followers of Christ which have clothed themselves in Christ Jesus.

The above list of denominations and non-denominational churches is incomplete I just listed what came to mind and am sure given time I could think of a number of other to add to this list.  Most importantly, instead of the different denominations and non-demominationals waring of non-fundamentals of the faith, let us do as the Bible teaches us and find our common ground and be united in that.  We are letting these insignificant things (in comparison to the fundamentals of our faith) to be used by the enemy to pull the Church (followers of Jesus) apart rather than being unified.  This is exactly what he wants because it destroys our witness to the world.  Church wake up!  It is time we take back what the enemy has cunningly got us to let go of.  There should be unity in love of the Church this is what will attract unbelievers to us.

When you find your true identity – either a follower of Christ or not.  One of three things will happen.

  1. Knowing your identity in Christ as a believer and follower that place in your heart that you were trying to fill with other identities will find peace and wholeness.
  2. If you are not a believer or follower of Christ but you heed the tugging in your heart that this could be the answer to that whole you feel – pray this simple prayer: Lord I see myself as the sinner I am and ask You to forgive me of all my sins.  I accept what Jesus did on the cross as a sacrifice for me so that I might have forgiveness of my sins and fellowship with you.  Lord help me to live the new life that I’ve just begun and bring believers around me to help me grow in You. Amen!
  3. If you are not a believer nor follower of Christ and you choose not to say the above pray and let Christ into your life, you can look through every profession, toy, relationship, or book other than the Bible and you will never fill that God shaped whole you feel.  You know the emptiness that nothing seems to fill.  It’s there for a reason.  God put it there so you would choose Him.  He also gave you free choice so you can run from Him all you want, He’s a gentleman He won’t force Himself on you.  But let me worn you the longer you run the harder your heart becomes.  The harder your heart becomes the less likely you are to turn to Him.  The reason I mention this is that hell is a very real place and if you don’t like things here on earth you have no idea what awaits you separated eternally from a loving and holy God.  It scares me to think that anyone I know would be sent to such a horrible place.  So please reconsider God’s gracious gift of forgiveness.  We’ve all sinned and fallen short of what God in His righteousness requires which is perfection.  Only one man ever walked the earth and did not sin, and that man is our Lord and Savior  Jesus Christ.

So let’s stop looking in all the wrong places and seek out Christ in the Bible and learn about Him so that we have a better understanding of our true identity.

Joy – A Fellow  Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Who Do You Serve?

We have a choice in life and we make this choice everyday.  Actually we get the chance to make this choice of who we are going to serve multiple times during the day.  That new car that you want so much, when yours is perfectly fine and God has been tugging at your heart that that money needs to go to something or someone else.

For me it’s those candy bars that call out to me, when as a diabetic I know I shouldn’t eat them and they only take up precious money that could be spent on healthy items.

Or is it the newest style that has you caught in its grip when your closet is full of clothes already?

Or is it saving up for the newest toy when you could be sponsoring and child and making a difference in a life.

Whatever it is if it’s not God it’s not good!  To be more exact Matthew 6:24 says, (Jesus talking) “No one can serve two masters.  If you try, you will wind up loving the first master and hating the second, or vice versa.  People try to serve both God and money – but you can’t.  You must choose one or the other.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Turning it Over To God

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Let go and let God”, but it isn’t always the easiest thing to do.  Well at least not for me.  I don’t know about you but I find myself putting things at the foot of the cross and then moments, hours or days later picking them up again and holding on to them for dear life.

Recently God has been dealing with me on this part of my walk with Him.  When I take things back from Him I’m showing a lack of trust on my part.  I’m in effect telling God, “I’m sorry but, I don’t think that You are capable of taking care of these problems.  I think I’ll just keep them to myself and try and deal with them on my own.”  Did you hear that?  It’s more than a matter of trust it’s a matter of pride. Who do I think that I am that I can do a better job on any part of any of my problems?  This is definitely an area of sin in my life and the sooner I can rid myself of this pride and humble myself and turn things back over to God’s care the better off I’ll be.

I can see how the forbidden fruit might have looked so attractive to Eve and Adam.  Once I give something to God, it is His, it is not mine to take back.  That makes me an Indian giver.  If you want to think in childlike terms.  If you want to think in adult terms, if it now belongs to God, it makes me a thief.  Not a very pleasant thought, but true all the same.

The enemy would like us to make light of this “indiscretion”, but try as he might he can’t change the fact that sin is sin.  God is merciful with us and gracious, but that doesn’t mean we take advantage.

I have been struggling with turning some things over to God and some I’ve turned over and left there others I’ve returned to steal back and others I’m to scarred to even turn over in the first place.  It’s not that I’m afraid that He’ll make me become a missionary and go to some awful far off place.  That may be preferable to what I’m truly afraid of.  I’m afraid of opening pandora’s box of my past and dealing with the things that my mind has so conveniently forgotten.  I’m afraid that He’ll push me past my ability to cope.  I’m afraid that if I open this area of my life to Him completely that I may just completely fall apart.

So instead of trusting in His love and wisdom and perfect will for my life and compassion and long suffering.  I eat to stuff the feelings I fear to deal with, and to stuff the memories I don’t want to remember.  While I in all my futility attempt to hide from Him, God waits for me to come to Him to ease my burden.  I know this with my head but the journey to my heart is taking much longer than I would hope.

The spirit is willing to be obedient but the flesh is so weak, so fearful, so proud.  Lord, I ask You to help me with my weak, fearful and prideful flesh and any brother or sister out there that are struggling the same way or similar to me.  I know that You want all of us not just part of us, so this prayer is in Your will.  So with confidence we come before you and thank You in advance for answering this prayer.  Amen!

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Remember What?

Have you ever found yourself in a place of gratitude where you feel like thanking God for His forgiveness?  Have you started listing sins for which your grateful that He has forgiven you for?  I know that I have in the past and it wasn’t until today’s devotion that I realized that He had no idea about what I was talking about.

Am I saying that God has a memory problem?  Heavens no!  What I am saying that our awesome God chooses to not remember.

I will remember their sins no more.  Hebrews 8:12 RSV

Think about that the God of the universe chooses to not remember our sins!  What a wonderful gift!  Once we’ve asked forgiveness it is done over with, finished!  Never to be mentioned or seen or heard of again!

He didn’t have to do that but that is His grace in action.  He loves us enough to offer us the grace of forgetting.  Not forgetfulness, because that isn’t a gift that’s a defect.  No His grace is the act of forgetting.  A choice He makes each time we ask forgiveness for a sin.  Now that’s a loving God and Father.

Our own fathers may have been great dads but this grace of the act of forgetting our sins is something that didn’t happen.  It’s not their fault it didn’t happen, it’s not human nature to choose to forget.

In fact it’s something that we normally don’t even choose to do for ourselves even after we’ve asked forgiveness of our sins.  If God can forgive and forget shouldn’t we?

Let’s take this a step at a time.  Do you find yourself asking forgiveness for the same sin over again and again?  I’m not talking about doing the same sin.  I mean the exact same sin as if you weren’t forgiven the first time you were asked.  If you are, stop your unbelief and trust God at his word.

I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.  1 John 2:12

His name is Jesus. Once you’ve accepted what Christ did on the cross for you, asked forgiveness for your sins, you are His child.  As His child you can see in the above verse that your sins are forgiven.  It doesn’t say that you need to ask again and again. Once is sufficient.  Only when we’ve sinned again do we then need to repent or ask forgiveness again.  Then do our best to live a godly or righteous life.

Now about forgetting, we remember them so that we can learn from them and not repeat them.  That doesn’t give us the right to beat ourselves  up over them.  It is of no benefit and only harms us.  We must forgive ourselves !  Learn from our errors and don’t perpetuate them by beating ourselves  up over them.  The only one that pleases is Satan.  Surely it is not our goal to please the enemy.

As the Bible says don’t give the enemy a foothold.  I know in context it is talking about anger but isn’t that a part of beating ourself up over sin?  Aren’t we angry with yourself?  We need to cut ourselves  a little slack.  We are human, we are not God.  That means that we are going to sin from time to time.  The important thing is that the moment we become aware of the sin, we ask forgiveness of it, and do our best not to repeat it.

We have an awesome God who loves us enough not only to forgive us but to forget as well.  That is something to praise Him for!

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Having The Mind Of Christ

“I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind.” Romans 7:23

“God will not release us from anything that has enslaved us until we’ve come to the mind of Christ in the matter.

Take the bondage of unforgiveness, for example.  When we want to be free from the burden of not forgiving, we want God simply to take that person out of our minds.  We want Him to wave a magic wand so we’ll never have to think about that person again.”

By Beth Moore in “Breaking Free Day by Day” (Devotional)

I have found this to be true in my life.  There have been people that I wish I could just forget them and the hurt that they have caused me.  But that is not God’s way.

“Who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.”  1 Corinthians 2:16

What does that mean to have the mind of Christ.  Surely as this verse points out we are not in a position to instruct God.  So what does it mean?  It means that we now have a choice to make to think in our old fleshly way or to think as Christ would have us think.

Let me give you an example.  When my marriage fell apart, I was hurt, angry and depressed.  My husband had walked away from our vows and no number of therapists were going to get him to return.  Neither was any number of self-help books or my coaxing would change his desire to turn his back first on God and then on me.  I’m not saying I didn’t play a part in all of it.  I had put my husband in front of God.  Mistakenly thinking that I was being Biblically submissive.  I was gravely mistaken and now know that I had put my husband in the position of an idol.  Nothing comes before my relationship with God.  I’ve heard said, “That a woman’s heart should be so close to God that a man would have to go to God to find her.”  I just love that!

Anyway I needed to forgive my ex-husband and the flesh, angry and hurt by his decision wanted nothing to do with forgiveness.  Yes I would wish that God would make him just vacate my mind so I wouldn’t feel this pain anymore.  But that is not how God works.  In time the Holy Spirit did a work in my life and I came to realize that to turn his back on God he must be hurting somewhere.  You see I started to think with the mind of Christ instead of the flesh.  It got to the point that even after the divorce I found myself praying for him.  He is hurting and he is lost and it is my fervent prayer that he returns to God.  That is the mind of Christ, caring for someone that may be undeserving of your caring but then, we are all undeserving of God’s caring.

As Beth Moore puts it, we think in two different mental languages one is of the flesh and one the mind of Christ (Paraphrased).  God gives us a choice on which language to think in but with that choice comes consequences.  Which ever language you choose the flesh or Christ that is the language you will become fluent in.  I choose to practice the mind of Christ more and do all I can to put to death the flesh.  What do you choose?

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart