30 Days of Gratitude – Day 24 Legalism & Grace

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Today I’m grateful for the grace that God shows me when it comes to my legalism.  This is something that God has been working on for many decades and I’m pleased to say that I’ve come quite a way, I’m also sad to say that I have a long way to go.

It saddens me when I read things like Galatians 5:2-4:

Mark my words!  I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.  3Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.  4You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

Bare with me here, I see my legalism as a form of circumcision because it obligates me to the law and negates the grace of Christ and stand in the way of my relationship with Him.  For those reasons I take firm warning from Galatians 5:2-4.

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As much as I struggle with legalism it breaks my heart that I’ve allowed it to come between me and my Lord Jesus Christ.  I long for a relationship with Him and the last thing that I want to do is fall away from grace.  I want what Galatians 5:1 states:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.

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I want the freedom that Christ offers and I don’t want to allow myself to be burdened again by the yoke of slavery, mainly my legalism.  So I ask God to continue working with me in this area of bondage.  That He make me keenly aware of when I’m struggling with it.  So that I might ask forgiveness and wisdom in how to get out of it.

I’m grateful that God is gracious with me in this area of sin.  I know He wants to see progress in this as much or more than I do.  He is so loving and patient with me when I come to a verse that seems one I can perch my legalistic hat on.  These days knowing His grace those verses cause me confusion, with questions like, “How can that be when God says?” or  “I don’t understand wouldn’t that mean?”  When I hear those questions I can usually assume I’m struggling with that ugly old friend legalism.  Being that I want to rid myself of that friend and things still get caught in my head, I seek wise counsel and that helps to quench the old demon.

When I’m in the midst of legalism my relationship with Christ suffers but if I ask the Holy Spirit to help me find the truth to find grace my relationship with Christ is restored.

God is gracious with us as long as we are earnestly seeking His will.  He is patient and long suffering for our sake.  What an awesome God we serve.

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

30 Days of Gratitude – Day 19

Today I’m grateful that the enemy is defeated.  The Serpents head has been crushed.  Christ is the victor and we can live victoriously as long as we rely on God and remember that the battle has already been won.  Something Satan would like us to forget.

I love this quote from, January 14th of “Joy of My Heart: Meditating Daily on God’s Word” by Anne Graham Lotz, it so fittingly portrays what is going on spiritually in our lives.

Although I can remember killing only one snake myself, I was present several times when snakes were killed by others.  Each time I observed a fascinating phenomenon.  After the snake was killed, its body invariably continued to twitch until sundown.  Even though the head was crushed, rendering it powerless, the dead snake’s writhing body was enough to keep me at a distance.

We need to remember that ever since the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Satan has been a defeated foe.  His head has been crushed.  As we seek to climb higher in our faith, what we are confronted with is merely the twitching of our defeated foe.  But sundown is coming!  One day even the twitching body of that old Serpent, the devil, will be destroyed.

Now if that isn’t something to be grateful for, I don’t know what is.

Lord help me to always remember that when the enemy attacks he is merely a defeated foe and all I need to do is turn to you.  Don’t let me be fooled by the twitching body of a dead Snake.  Amen.

30 Days of Gratitude – Day 11

Today I’m grateful for what my Savior did for me.  He made it possible for me to accept Him as my Savior.  He paid the price that was needed for all of my sins and all the sins ever committed when He was stripped whipped and beaten and put on the cross for the transgressions of all time.

What a precious gift He gave the world and at what a horrible price.  But after He died on the cross He raised from the dead on the third day.  Breaking death’s victory and making possible for anyone who believes by faith in Jesus Christ what He did for them and repents of their sin and asks Christ into their lives can become a child of God.  Now it is possible to be heirs of the King of Kings through faith in Jesus Christ.

God is good to us in that respect.  Even though man has turned his back on God time and time again.  Yet God seeks out man even to the point of sending His only Son to earth to pay the penalty that we owe.

Which makes Him a just judge because the penalty for sin must be paid but although we are guilty and deserve the penalty of death Jesus Christ came and paid that penalty for each of those willing to accept the gift He did.

I started this 30 days of Gratitude without thinking that I would be facing surgery during this month.  My right elbow is having surgery do to nerve damage.  I’m going to be recuperating for two weeks so I don’t know how or if I’ll be able to continue this series after Thursday.  It is my intention to restart where I’m stopped at when I’ve healed.  Your prayers for my healing is greatly appreciated.

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

30 Days of Gratitude – Day 8

Today I’m grateful for…all that the Lord Jesus Christ has done for me.

“27All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.  28Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  29Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  30For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  –  Matthew 11:27-30

Thank You for willing to reveal Yourself to me.  I know it was my choice but I also know that You knew ahead of time that I would choose you.

Thank You for a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light.  Thank You for being a place where I can find rest for my soul.  Rest for my soul is something that is needed so much and I’m so appreciative that You give that.

Lord You are so good and so loving!  Thank You for coming down to earth to be our Savior and for being obedient to the Father even when You wanted “this cup taken from” You.  I can’t imagine how hard that must have been to do but I’m eternally grateful to You for doing that for me and all the sinners that have ever been and will ever be.  You just never fail to amaze me!

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!

Life’s Roller Coaster

Sitting in an emergency room waiting for a friend who is sick and in pain to find some relief.

I feel so helpless as she lays there in tears, throwing up.  I pray the doctor comes soon but is that really adequate for all she’s going through? My mind goes back to other hospital trips when not much was offered.  “Lord, please let them find the source of pain and be able to fix it!” “Father she has no insurance and no income today please provide for her and stop this constant pain.”

So many different people in pain here, “Lord, help them all!”

Thank You Lord she sleeps! Sweet slumber eases her pain.  Thank You Lord for the pain medication.

This is truly humbling Lord, there is absolutely nothing I can do.  My job is done for the time being, I brought her here, she sleeps and I sit and wait for the doctor and his results. “Lord, please let him have some positive answer as to how to stop this for her.

This is the uncomfortable part of life’s roller coaster the not so much the fun part.  May be for you that’s the time when the coaster is chugging up the high incline and your nerves are at a peak in anticipation of the drop to come.

May be there is just no part of the roller coaster that you like.  May be you have avoided them all your life terrified of them.  I hear you, life can be terrifying as well.  Those of us that like control, like myself have to face the fact that with life there is no control and that is a very uncomfortable place to be.  But if we give God the control and allow ourselves to let go and let God we may just find that we can start to tolerate roller coasters driven by God.

May be flying free is freeing for you and the fun part but the slow chug chug chug up to the pinnacle just before the drop is the anxiety riddling part.  That’s how it is for me.  Once I’ve given in to the dips and loops and inclines the anxiety of the beginning of the ride is overrun by laughter and enjoyment.  Now in our life those uncomfortable times of the roller coaster, the chug for the next set of dips or the dips themselves are not times of laughter and enjoyment but they can be times of peace.  If we turn to God at all times in our life.  Whether we find ourselves in hospitals with friends, or worshiping at church,  when we yield ourselves to God, He will give us the peace we desire.

Notice something about roller coasters?  You are never in them by yourself.  Just as my friend had me with her in the hospital we both had someone else there that is there for us all the time.  God never leaves you in the roller coaster alone.  If you invite Him into your life He is there all the way.  Never will He desert you.  You never have to feel alone again.  Just ask Him into your heart, repent of your sins, and accept what Jesus Christ did on the cross for you.

Just as I release to the roller coaster, if we will release to God’s perfect will for us, our journey on the roller coaster will be to our benefit.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  –  Jeremiah 29:11-13

The Lord has plans for you and for me.  Those plans are to prosper and not to harm.  Please don’t get me wrong here, I truly believe prosper is a relative term.  Meaning that whatever is in God’s will for you to do He will cause it to prosper.  That doesn’t mean that you will necessarily become monetarily rich.  I have been doing my best to live out God’s will in my life and I am the last person you would define with worldly wealth.  But I am rich in things the world knows nothing about.  I have a faith stronger now than it has ever been.  I know no matter what that my God will take care of me.

God has brought me through much and I feel confident that I am able to handle things that once during my life would have overwhelmed me.  And I am able to listen to my Father’s voice and to head His instruction so that I might go the way He wants me to, which is for my benefit.

God wants to bless us but He also wants all of us.  In Jeremiah He promises that we will find Him when we seek Him with all our heart.  Our God is a jealous God and there is no room for anyone but Him to fill that whole in your soul.  He wants to be the love of your life.  Before your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/or addiction.  God wants all of you and then from the fullness of God can you give to others or overcome your addictions.

Are We Living As Christ Would Have Us?

There have been a lot of things that have been done in the name of Christ, some good and some not so good.  There have been majestic Cathedrals built by artisans over ages to honor Him.  There have been celebrities giving all the glory to Jesus Christ for their success.  Yet there have also been horrific things done in His name as well.  The crusades is one of the darkest time in the history of Christendom.  War was waged all because those calling themselves Christians thought that those who were not Christians should die.  This is not what the love of Christ is all about.

I know that the crusades may seem like a rather harsh example of not doing or rather walking the walk that God would have us walk, but in God’s eyes sin is sin.  Whether we are killing people in Christ’s name or killing His image in their sight, it is all the same to God.

Let me explain what I mean by killing His image.  Every time we do something that is contrary to following Christ those watching us we are actually destroying His image, because we are representatives of Him.

I know that for me there have been times when I have not been a good representative of Christ.  Much to my dismay I have given cause for others not to have a desire to come to Christ, which is our commission.

I have learned to be more responsible about how I act and what I say and how I say it.  Sometimes silence is the best and just allow the world to see your walk.

Most importantly we need to love people.  These are not only the people in the church (because unity is important) but the people outside of the church.  Those who don’t know Christ as their Savior need to see His love and the only way they can do that is for them to see that through you and me.

This is how Christ wants us to live, loving Him with all our heart and soul and mind and then to others as you love yourself.  It seems simply enough but to put it into action on a daily basis is impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit.

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Enjoy the Journey

Yes we are a work in progress, but do we allow ourselves the pleasure of enjoying the journey?  I don’t know about you but I’m a destination girl.  I decide on a destination and once I get there then is when the fun begins.

But if I live my life the way I take trips I’m in for a miserable time.  God is all about the process or journey if you prefer and I need to learn to enjoy the changes or growth I see along the way and not wait for the day of perfection to be happy.  If I were to do that my life on earth would be one of disappointment and frustration needless to say a lot of anger at myself for being less than.

This is just where the enemy wants me.  Feeling defeated because I’m less than perfect.  When He knows that the only perfect man that ever walked the face of the earth was Jesus Christ and that when he comes again then is when He will be done with His work in us.  As it says in Philippians 1:6

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you. –  Philippians 1:6

So I must learn to stop and smell the flowers both in my journeys in travel and in life.  Life is too short to take for granted the growth that you’ve made and to beat yourself up for growth you’ve not yet accomplished.

If God in all His love and mercy and grace is patient enough to wait for the end of the journey, then so must I learn to love myself and be merciful, gracious and patient with myself and enjoy the journey.

I have two choices to be miserable through the journey or to enjoy watching my growth through the journey.  Since God is the One working it to completion it is His job to see it through.  I just need to do as I’m lead to do by Him and leave the rest in His very capable hands.

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

A Work In Progress

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you. –  Philippians 1:6

I am fully aware that I am not where I want to be in my life.  There is nothing in my spiritual or physical life that I can say I am at the place I want to be.

Even though God has made my short comings very evident to me He has also told me in His Word that is to be expected.  There will be a time of perfection but that will only be on “the day of Jesus Christ”.

Until that time I need to continue to do my part to learn and grow in Christ.  To seek wisdom and understanding and spread the good news that Christ saves.

Although we work to become closer and more like Christ, Joyce Meyer puts it best in this quote.

God is the only one who can perfect the good work He has started in your life, but it takes some time.  And during the process He wants you to recognize you are making progress.  So give yourself a break and say, “I’m okay and I’m on my way!”   – “Ending Your Day Right: Devotionals for very Evening of the Year”  By Joyce Meyer

God started that good work in you and though you have a part in the process: quiet time with Him, prayer, worship, Bible reading, fellowship, acts of service, praise, singing to Him in praise and worship, etc. He is the ultimate One who will complete the process.  It’s not something that we can do on our own or will it.  It is part of the gift of redemption.  God brings us to Himself at the right time to perfection.

Thank you Lord for Your gracious gift.  Thank You for the process and help me to remember that it’s okay to be in process.  At least I’m not stagnating.  For that Lord I praise You!

A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Struggle with Self-esteem?

I don’t know how many of you struggle with not feeling good enough, but it has been a thorn in my side for my entire life.  It was almost a stumbling block between me and salvation.  I didn’t think that there was anyway that God could possibly forgive me!  My poor self image and my awareness of my sinful nature was so before me that for some reason I thought that God would accept Hitler before me.

Now no at the age of 13 I had not caused the death of anyone or tried to take over the world, but all the same I felt so unworthy that I was certain that no one even God could possibly forgive me for my sin.  It took a long time to realize that it wasn’t a matter of worth that got me into the kingdom of heaven, but a matter of grace.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.   –  Titus 2:11

The passage that really settled it for me and gave me assurance of not only my salvation but my position in Christ is Ephesians 2:1-10

1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work is those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature an following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

What comforted me about this passage is many things and I’d like to break it down for you.  First of all, as I’ve already mentioned I was keenly aware of my sinfulness, which made me feel totally unworthy of anything God could have for me.  In Ephesians 2:1-3 it talks about our sins and how we were dead in our transgressions and how all of us lived this way as by nature objects of wrath.  When I read that I thought this Book gets me.  This is exactly how I feel.

Then came verses 4 & 5 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”  I could hardly believe my eyes, God loved me and not only that he had rich mercy on me.  Though I was dead in my transgressions God chose to make me alive in Christ.  By grace I was saved.  What a generous God.  It was almost more than my eyes could take in.  My heart was pounding with joy as it is now reliving it.

As if He knew that I needed the added message of what my position  was to help me with my self worth, He goes on to tell me that He/God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, amazing.

So that we don’t get it wrong we are reminded that it is by grace we are saved, through faith, and this not from ourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.  This keeps me in the right frame of mind humble because I know that I need God for everything.

Then the writer does us the wonderful blessing of letting us know what God’s purpose for us is. Verse 10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Isn’t it wonderful we know what we are here for to do good works that God has already prepared for us.  That means we need to keep in communication with Him so that we don’t miss out on our purpose.  Since He has planned them out in advance it would be foolish to just go around and do any good work that might not be the one He is wanting you or I to do.  Open communication is crucial for us to know what it is that we are to be doing to stay in God’s will.  Anything else is pride.

Lord thank You for Your Word and for Your will and plans.  Forgive me for my times of pride when I’ve charged off and done things on my own will whether I thought they were for You or not, I was sinful not to come toYou first.  I ask you to forgive me of the sin of my pride and help me to turn to You first.  In the sweet name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.

A Woman After God’s Own Heart!