This recent decision to be sold out to Christ by daily surrendering my spirit to The Holy Spirit awakens unexpected things. I found it very timely this morning to have my devotional readings and my bible reading to be centered on flesh and spirit. Since we are both we need to take care of both, the messages were saying.
One of the messages of this morning was focused on staying silent while you are being taught by Christ during our life lessons. The author was encouraging the reader to avoid quickly assuming Christ wants this or He wants that and proclaiming an unfinished message to others as though it were Christ’s. We often jump ahead of the lesson we are being taught and then we end up never shining the Light of Christ He wants shone. We just show man’s light which doesn’t penetrate the world’s darkness. I read this and am now pondering my writing of this blog. I never want a reader of this to take a message and interpret it as God’s truth. My sole purpose in writing it is to let the readers know what daily living looks like, feels like, etc. The fact that I am presently in a big learning curve of surrendering spirit to Spirit is something I don’t want to proclaim to the world around me as having been completed. I am in the midst of a big lesson which will likely take me the rest of my life for it is one day at a time. The influence of my past abuse is something Satan tries daily to influence The Holy Spirit’s work on me and in me. This is what I want the blog to accomplish so others know they are not in isolation as I’ve felt so much of my life.
One thing I am awakening to is the human side of me sure wants to dominate. My human emotions are tied to this for when I am tired I just want to be left alone and my emotions want to take charge. This doesn’t feel Christ-like and I know it isn’t. So, I stay in this lesson “…one day at a time, one moment at a time accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.” The Serenity Prayer is such a good prayer in our recovery walk/journey.
This morning I want to complete a message I felt was only partly done yesterday. I mentioned about the verses II Corinthians 12:9-10 which state in part, “…When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you….” I mentioned that I’ve learned over time this verse references my spirit. My dad use to say that he needed to kill that spirit of mine. He’d reference to breaking the spirit of a horse so it obeys man. When I was a young boy I didn’t even know what he was talking about. As I got into my early teens I’d think, “I will do what you want but I will still be who I am!” I wold steel myself to be better than him.
Today I know that my spirit is strong and will always likely be that way. However, realizing I am not battling dad, I’m stifling The Holy Spirit’s use of me humbles me and I want to surrender this strong spirit recognizing this strength is the wrong kind.
Today is day 2 of surrendering my spirit to be replaced with The Holy Spirit. It is most humbling recognizing how long The Holy Spirit has patiently waited for me to finally grasp this message. How I love Him and thank Him!
As I began my devotional time today I was starting a new journal. At this point I take a look at my entries when the previous journal began to see where I was in this journey and to see how I’m doing now compared to then. This morning’s nudges seemed to lead me in a different direction. Today I was nudged to check my surrender at that point compared to my surrender today. It was a very different way of comparing/reflecting.
Last night I taught the Celebrate Recovery lesson–GRACE. Yes, it is all about the Gift of Grace God gives us through Jesus Christ. But additionally, it is also to become the Grace we offer others for whom we have forgiven when they have offended us, abused us, abandoned us, etc. Even more, it is the Grace we offer others when we give amends to those we have hurt, abused, offended, abandoned, etc. God has given us a free gift of Grace and he wants us to do the same with the people in our lives.
I have always been one who enjoys work/doing. But I’ve always had a motive/expectation behind the doing that would enable me to finally be forgiven and clean. Only in these past couple years has God been getting through to me that GRACE is a gift unable to be earned. In fact, in trying to earn grace, I disallow myself the opportunity to receive it.
The other thing about this lesson which really hit me is in the verses II Corinthians 12:9-10. It says in part, “…When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you….” I’ve always thought I needed to be strong in order to fight off the wrong beliefs I’ve had much of my life so this verse was confusing to me. Now I understand that being “weak” is talking about my spirit. God is wanting my spirit to be weak so that His Holy Spirit can be strong in me. This being done, I can truly become a servant of God Almighty routinely completing His Will instead of my own will.
This morning I made a new prayer list which I do a couple times a year updating it. In so doing, I no longer put “new creation” at the top. Now I put “weak in spirit–surrendered to The Holy Spirit”. This is my daily reminder to start each day fully recognizing my need to be weak so that The Holy Spirit can then be strong.
As I began journaling this morning I expressed to Jesus how difficult it is for me to stay consciously surrendered throughout the day. It is as though the decision to be surrendered is a superficial one rather than one which runs deep within me. I don’t want it that way either. I know that God, being all knowing, knows all of this, but I’m always amazed when the devotional and scripture reading tackles the issue at hand. As I began to read my two devotionals I found their message to be focused on surrender and what that looks like. Then as I was reading the 5th chapter of Ephesians, Paul is doing a great job outlining surrender also.
When I surrender I am to give up my wish to control outcomes, my pride when the outcome isn’t mine, etc. So, instead of this, as I go back to yesterday, I am to take a moment to see what God is doing instead of what I want done. As soon as God is brought into the equation and I let go, joy enters the picture. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit. I can’t see or sense joy in a situation if I selfishly am trying to get my way, if it contradicts God’s Way. When I surrender each day I am to ask for God’s Holy Spirit to replace my selfish spirit. I’m sure I’ve heard this a hundred times or more and even said this, but for some reason this morning, I find the message exactly what my next step is to be.
The other beautiful thing that this morning’s devotions brought into the open is that the surrender of my selfish pride/spirit and asking the Holy Spirit to be my spirit, is completing the new creation I am. When I accepted Christ into my life many years ago I became a new creation–yes. However, being one and looking like one takes the rest of my life. Yes, I am entering old age as my grandkids describe. Yet, in so doing, I will humanly look old, but my actions I pray will look like a true follower of Jesus Christ.
The renewing of your mind is sure easier to type than it is to complete. I think what I need to remember is that it is daily and several times during the day. I reread Ephesians 4 today and of course, my devotional readings were right in line with the discipline of this renewal.
God is always present. This is a truth that I know but don’t know how to access in times of stress. My devotionals were talking about the “gods” of our life. These gods can be selfishness, control, pride, etc. Joyce Meyer says that when we renew our mind, we seek God in the situation we lived through but didn’t find Him at the moment. What made the difference? She reminds us to picture the stressful situation working out to God’s satisfaction because we let our pride go, surrendered it, and we let go of the need to “have it our way”. What would God’s Way look like if we let it go?
There are times in my life when I need to hold fast to an action which is the “right one”. However, more times than not, I need to let go of my pride and look differently at the situation seeing it turning out with God’s Way being done. Applying this to actions at home or any other place is my lesson for this day.
And today—I get to return to the school district I’ve had to isolate from for the past few months. It will be nice to see everyone again.
“Renewed in the spirit of your mind”
The 4th chapter of Ephesians is a teaching chapter. It goes deeply into how we ought to live our lives patterning how we live to be more like Christ Himself. I am consumed this morning by the 22-24th verses. In them it says: “Strip yourselves of your former nature which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; and be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind. and put on the new nature created in God’s image in true righteousness and holiness.”
Stripping myself is a strong command. I have recently been introduced to my own lusts and desires separate of the abuse I had from the lusts and desires of my brother coupled with dad’s abusive physical and verbal behaviors. God has shown me their behaviors were theirs and now He is showing me my own. Today He gives me this command–Strip myself of the former nature. There is a footnote in my bible which says that stripping myself is the renewing of my mind by being in God’s Word each day. Taking time each day to be in God’s Word is a discipline I have, but the direct command of stripping myself is a new concept or at least I am finally much clearer in its meaning. Releasing the old thoughts, beliefs from my past so I can now begin to believe the truths of God’s Word for me is what I am to do.
I couldn’t even finish this chapter this morning. I had to stop at this point so God could walk me through the significance of it. I love how thorough God is in remaking us to be more like His Son. How I love our Heavenly DAD!
The price of sacrifice is often not money. Today I’m reminded that Christ gave His life for our freedom. In the same way, our country has had so many who have given their lives for our freedom. Our country also has stood for freedom over the years for many others across the world and sacrificed lives to do so. Today we honor them as well as our loved ones who have gone before us. My most gracious thanks is the eternal freedom Christ Jesus offers to each one. I pray you know Him as your personal Savior. He is only a confession and request away. Responding to His nudge to ask Him into your lives will offer you freedom like no other!
It takes a while for the truths of these past few days to sink in and become reality. I reread my entries this morning as I reread the beginning of Galatians. In fact, the Oswald Chambers’ devotion this morning talked about the sacrifice of discipleship. He was writing about counting the cost of it. I wanted to flip the message and write–counting the cost of not surrendering to discipleship. It is probably an age thing, but when I was younger I thought it was a cost to serve God–or attempt to serve God fully. However, at the age I am today I realize just how much more awful my life would be if I hadn’t chosen Christ.
When I was deep into my counseling sessions and struggling so much trying to recognize who I am in Christ’s image–the new creation; I was told how lucky I was to be considered a successful man by man’s standards. I was asked if I knew that almost 100% of men in prison have a very similar background to mine? I hadn’t given it much thought, but I now realize how critical it was to have chosen God’s direction for my life rather than to rebel. To be honest, I wanted to serve God. I’d witnessed the consequence of rebellion in my older brothers as well as the selfish behaviors of my dad so why would I want to enter into a life of rebellion? It seemed like choosing to abuse oneself. It was a different kind of abuse, but nonetheless, abuse.
Galatians is so much about GRACE. I think more than anything, I thank God for His Grace. It is Grace–unmerited favor–which God has provided me–each one of us. How much I thank Him for this precious Gift. Without it, how lost I would be!
The present definition of “journey”, as this blog title reads, is more about awakening rather than traveling. I guess I could re-title it: The Awakening Continues. I’ve written several times about having New Creation written at the top of my prayer list to remind me each morning that I am one and I don’t have to earn this. It is a gift from God by receiving His Son Jesus as my Lord and Savior. There are lots of benefits to this which I slowly am catching on to.
Paul is writing throughout Galatians and Ephesians about the reality of Christ’s work on the Cross obtaining the gift of being a new creation for us. I feel as though I’m understanding the deeper side of this for the first time. The root of my understanding is coming from the truth that I do not earn this gift. I do not earn or finally become valuable enough that I can now be a new creation. I just haven’t realized how rooted I’ve been in this lie of Satan. There is also another reality I’ve seen this morning I am going to attempt explaining.
Throughout much of my life I struggled with the lie that I was sin. The sexual abuse and dad’s verbal abuse had me believing that my brother’s sexual sin left me as sin. I didn’t commit the sin, I was the sin–I thought. I was a man being used by another man. I didn’t have the value of other men and my dad’s verbal abuse only reinforced what Satan wanted me believing. So, how does one give to Jesus the sin you commit when you are the sin? No matter how many times I gave my sin to Jesus at the alter, at home, wherever I was, I still felt dirty. Coupled with this was the sexual pleasure from healthy sex. I’ve always been easy prey for Satan’s attacks that somehow this is wrong too even though I know it is a lie. Satan would try to tie the stimulation one felt from sexual abuse to the stimulation/pleasure of healthy sex.
This morning Jesus helped me see my brother’s sin having been taken to the Cross by Him. He then helped me see that my sin was given to him by me at the Cross so He could do the same with my sin as He did with my brother’s. They are very separate actions. The emotional separation of these is now clear. Somehow, writing this seems raw, but important. I pray it is not offensive to any reader, but it will help others who might struggle with this lie as I have.
God isn’t finished with His assignment of addressing the message of the past couple days. As I began to read Ephesians this morning I was brought back to my unfinished business of God’s Love for us (me) and that this isn’t something I earn by doing for Him. The fact that I know this and believe it doesn’t change why I do things by the end of the day.
As Paul was addressing the people of Ephesus, he talked about God’s lavish love for His creation–man. Each one of us is chosen by God to be how He made us to be. He even gave us His Son Jesus so this creation–you and me–could stand before Him pure and spotless. This is the measure of the love He has for us. Joyce Meyer says in a footnote to say out loud–“I belong to God”. We say this not because of what we have done to earn it. We say it because God created us to be His from the start. Our relationship with Him is firm and secure through Jesus Christ having been invited into our lives.
I can’t begin to tell you in words how much I long to know this message deep within my soul! My head knows it, believes it, trusts it; but, when I walk into each day I have to be reminded of it for my actions are so often to prove worth/value.
I have read the messages of Galatians and Ephesians many, many times. Never have I had their messages–these I’m writing about, hit me so strongly. “I belong to God.” My one devotional this morning was written from Revelation 3:20-22: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” I’ve always translated this message to be one of salvation. But tying it in with the deeper message of today–I belong to God–makes me realize that each morning as I come to God in my devotional time, Jesus is waiting to come in and dine with me and me with Him. I belong to THEM–what a glorious message!