THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: MAY 21, 2020

I feel like I need to add a statement at the end of yesterday’s post–“to be continued”. I said yesterday that I would need to reflect more on the topic of the fruits of the Spirit and the preceding scriptures which outline the behaviors of man. Today as I continued to read in Galatians, I find more which Joyce Meyer inserts. I greatly appreciate her insights for they clarified for me what I was pondering and still unclear.

Joyce says that all of us are created with talents, those gifts given at birth which we would call our strengths. The behaviors outlined in Galatians 5:19&20 are the ones man develops over time which are sinful and even destroy the effectiveness of the given talents/gifts we possess from birth. Paul, writer of Galatians, goes onto say in Galatians 5:22-24 that when we accept Christ into our hearts the seeds of the characteristics of the Holy Spirit are planted within us. God is giving us opportunity to grow these seeds, nurture them until they become evident in our lives by the way we use the gifts/talents given to us at birth.

Joyce goes onto say that the fruits of the Spirit begin with love and end with self-control. She identifies these two fruits as bookends for the other 7. In other words, we should strive to use all of our gifts/talents in love and in self-control. The talents I possess were largely different from those of my father. When I was growing up and was praised for any talent I used I was brutally criticized for them by dad. I was told I just wanted to be better than the rest of my family and I should just leave and go do my own thing for I didn’t care at all for others. This was never the thinking I had, but I was endlessly told this. Because of this I’d hide from any praise I’d receive and if I did get any, I’d certainly try to keep it from dad.

I love the balance Paul has given talents and use of them through growing the seeds of God’s Holy Spirit. This is how we should monitor ourselves and how we should give any assistance to others, including our children and grandchildren. How much I want to grow in this!

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: MAY 20, 2020

I was stricken this morning while reading the 5th chapter of Galatians. I’ve always given credible attention to the fruits of the Spirit found in this chapter, but preceding them is the list of man’s behaviors which are sinful and not of the Spirit of God. Just a couple of these behaviors are divisions and strife. As I was reading this I instantly thought of our own country’s leadership. Beyond our country is a world of countries which are struggling the same. I was asking God what I could do about this, just one man in Idaho? His response was as instant as my question. He asked me if I am living this way? Do I have a divisive spirit and do I create strife?

In the following verses which list these behaviors which pattern man are a list of the behaviors which pattern God’s Spirit. These behaviors include: kindness, peace, patience and self-control. My goal is not to be anxious over the behaviors of others, but to stay in touch with what God has asked each of His children to do–live by His Spirit’s presence within us. Wow, I really need to spend more time in this. This is another one of the lifetime lessons I have to come back to and reflect upon as well as adjust as needed. I also want to diligently pray for our country and world leaders to see the strengths of God’s Spirit within them replacing the behaviors of man without God’s Spirit leading.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: MAY 19, 2020

Have you ever known someone who loved waiting patiently for something they longed for or something they deeply prayed for someone else–even themselves? I do know people who are better at this practice than others, but, to love waiting, trusting, believing that God has something rich in store, is a disciple only Christ can help us develop.

As I was praying this morning there were several people who came to mind and are in the midst of this “need to wait”. A father whose daughter is in the hospital waiting to see if the surgery will save her leg, a man who is battling his addiction and so wanting to overcome once and for all, a couple waiting to see if their offer on the “dream home” will be accepted. In each case they are having to wait. What can we do during this time?

As I was going into my prayer time I was looking out the window at the spring flowers, seeing the dawn’s light streaking through the clouds and watching the birds busily doing their nest building and food gathering. I don’t think they even know to worry if they know something is at risk. The three elements I wrote about yesterday were what came to mind for me: Faith, Trust, Believe. Is my FAITH anchored in the God I know? Is my TRUST rooted in truth that God uses all things to His honor and glory? Do I BELIEVE God’s Word to be true for me?

I am not the one caught in these particular situations, but in each case I know the individuals well. I pray God’s Spirit to surround and penetrate darkness that wants to shroud in these times. i also pray for these ingredients of faith, trust, believe to be strengthened during this time of waiting.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: MAY 18, 2020

As I wrote yesterday’s blog entry I had a heightened awareness of my need to stay with God’s leadership throughout my day. I was much more aware of my need to believe God is fully in control and stay conscious of this truth throughout the day. It isn’t that I don’t believe this, it is more that I just start doing Earnie things and when something doesn’t go right I suddenly am aware I stepped ahead of the plan. I do often find myself there.

What is standing out to me today is that Faith, Trust and Believing are critical elements in Christian living. They not only start the process, but they are elements of the lifestyle which must stay firmly in place. Then, following these 3 comes obedience. I am never to do until I practice these three ingredients. The obedience for me is my doing part. It isn’t enough that I “get my fix” of God in my life as I start the day. My obedience needs to look like checking in throughout the day as I am into my doing so that it is in full alignment with God’s leadership in my life–The Holy Spirit.

I truly want to have this practice of living deeply rooted in me. I don’t want it to be something I write about for a few day and then move onto the next “thing”. All of living each day needs to be centered around these components. I ask God to keep me right here each and every day.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: MAY 17, 2020

I must confess that each morning as I’ve been processing through this assignment of reflecting on Jesus’ life from birth to ministry, I find myself lost. As my journaling begins I seem to having little if anything to write. So, I begin by writing how little I understand. Then, as I allow myself to think about what I know Christ did from what the bible tells us, I begin to see what He did that I don’t do. Often in scripture we’re told that Christ spent ample time with His Father. We also know that The Holy Spirit was with Him and guiding Him. I’m quite sure too that The Holy Spirit was growing in Him because of this process. Christ was learning to rely on this time to know just what His Father wanted from Him. I do start everyday this way. However, when I’m done with this, Earnie takes over. I then do what I think I’m to do the rest of the day. That’s not to say that what I’m doing is wrong, I just don’t very often check in with God to know I’m on track with Him throughout the day as Christ so often did.

This morning’s bible reading in Galatians 3, Paul is getting after the Galatians for their living patterns. It is as though they are me. They are trying to live for Jesus their own way and by their own thinking and actions. Joyce Meyer also has something to add to this. She says she lived a long time trying to please Jesus by doing for Him. She would get quite frustrated when the outcomes of her “work” were not sufficient. She goes on to say that frustration in christian living primarily is from us trying to complete our work for Jesus rather than His work for Him. We take the lead rather than waiting for His insights/nudges to lead us. With His insights come the power of The Holy Spirit to complete His work. This is where faith, trust and believing come into play.

This I’m now realizing is what God was teaching Christ during these growing up years of His. Jesus had to get this well anchored in His lifestyle or else He wouldn’t have had the faith, trust, belief to go to the Cross and die for our sins knowing He’d rise again! Talk about a huge amount of FAITH and leaning on The Holy Spirit’s strength which He provides at just the right time. This same process of learning to trust and believe is what our same God is wanting to teach us/me. The faith Christ had in His DAD is what God our DAD is wanting us to have in Him today. I’m feeling like I’m a slow learner in this, but nonetheless, I’m glad to have this Light for today.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: MAY 16, 2020

As I continue to reflect this week on Christ’s birth to ministry years I find myself wondering what happened to Joseph, his earthly father? He’s only mentioned in the bible ahead of birth, after birth fleeing to Egypt and returning a couple years later after Herod died. He’s referenced a few years later when Christ was found at the temple “by his parents”. It ends there. When Christ enters his ministry years only Mary and his siblings are referenced. Did his earthly father and mother point him always to God his Father? Within my family structure there were ample opportunities for me to see Christ. This was more from my mom and her parents and from going to church weekly and often during the week as I got older. I’ve said in previous blog entries that I’ve spent ample time in the dark cave of my past and I thought I was done with this cave. This exercise of analyzing Christ’s childhood to ministry years makes me go back in this time to see where I hadn’t found Christ. Is there more darkness to have Christ shed Light into?

This exercise is to examine at this point and not make decisions. As I took this to Christ this morning I asked what He wanted me to know at this point? Instantly the song, “Amazing Love–Oh What Sacrifice” came to mind. The words are so powerful!

My Lord–what love is this, that pays so dearly? That I the guilty one may go free! Chorus: Amazing love, O what sacrifice. The Son of God given for me. My debt He pays and my death He dies that I might live. And so they watched Him die, despised, rejected. But oh, the blood He shed flowed for me. (Chorus) And now this love of Christ shall flow like rivers. Come wash your guilt away. Live again! (Chorus)”

This is what Christ wanted me to know at this point. How humbling and yet so powerfully wonderful!

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: MAY 15, 2020

Today as I began my journaling I once again began with the reflecting process of Christ’s childhood which led me to do the same with my own. There is much I began to notice about God’s involvement. God had a very specific reason for sending His Son Jesus to earth for each of our sake. However, the humbling reality for me is that He had specific intention in having me too. I have so much to awaken to in this, but just this much is so comforting.

In my devotional reading by Oswald Chambers, he says that when God is speaking to us we should not talk to others about it until the message is clear. We tend to too soon try and receive support or confirmation from others regarding what God is telling us. God is Sovereign and has no need for His child to confirm what He is saying to them through another man. I’ve struggled with this message for a long time not thinking I was worthy to hear God’s voice. Yet, in more recent years I’ve learned to trust far more in this arena.

If there is anything of late that is being confirmed daily, it is the fact that God is truly a God of Grace. As I started the book of Galatians this morning the entire theme of this small book is GRACE. My upbringing in the church was pretty much about legalism. Do this and get this, do that and get that. Doing is the key and it is doing the right thing so you don’t get what you deserve. God is made to be a god of judgment in the world of legalism. However God’s own words tells us over and over about His patient endurance waiting for us to come to Him and receive His Son as our Savior and as His Gift to us. Yes, judgment will come, but now is not the time. We are in the time of GRACE and this is the message man needs to know of our God.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: MAY 14, 2020

As I began my devotional time today I was journaling to Jesus about our relationship. I had to confess to Him that I’ve never thought He and I were equal as far as human flesh is concerned during His years on earth. I have thought that since He had a direct connect to God with God being His Dad, He could withstand sin while I couldn’t. Getting that out in the open allowed a pathway to open up between us. I ended up going back into the darkness of my past and visiting a time when I was only 9 or 10 and I had an encounter with The Holy Spirit. It wasn’t anything overwhelming, but it was definite. What I recall is being alone on a ditch bank at one of our pastures. It was a Sunday and we’d just returned from church. I was lamenting the abuse I’d been experiencing. I had this presence come about me which for the moment made me feel loved and accepted. I started crying as a boy not knowing where this came from, but loving this sense of acceptance.

As I begin to process/experience a week of examining Christ’s life on earth from birth to His ministry I see first-hand the connection He had to The Holy Spirit. Somehow Jesus knew He was loved and accepted by His Heavenly Dad and likely he knew he was accepted by his earthly dad. The Holy Spirit is a huge link in this and likely He will be increasing as this journey continues.

My dad use to say he needed to break my spirit/kill my spirit. Now, God is breathing new life/spirit that He wants understood. The new creation He makes us to be has a spirit which is alive and well and knows The Holy Spirit. I have much to learn and I want to be a good student in this process.

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: MAY 13, 2020

A week or so ago I read an article that talked about the Ignatian Exercises. They come from the work of St. Ignatius who lived in the 15th century. These exercises talk about a hunger for freedom from sin as one enters into the second week of following these exercises. I’ve had this hunger for much of my life but have often wondered how it can be found when we live in the flesh. It says to meditate on the life of Jesus from his birth to his ministry days. It is during this time that Jesus learned how to hear God, respond to God and to discern the ways of man. I’m going to be doing this in the next few days. The first week is about mourning sin, understanding and being in awe of God’s kindness, and having a hunger for freedom from all that entangles.

There is an entire conference for this. For some reason I’m prodded to delve into it on my own. So much of each week’s work has to do with steps I’ve already done, but I know there are elements of flesh that still bind me. The fears of past and future which I’ve written about in the past few days speak to this. Having the Light turned on yesterday exposing the fears of the future as simply an empty room with the ugly face of evil made my realize a kindness of God I only know in part.

Learning to hear God, trust Him and respond to Him is my next assignment. How beautiful our God is!

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES: MAY 12, 2020

I’ve never before sat and thought through (or allowed God to guide my thinking through) the fears of past and future. The caves I talked about yesterday. I’ve certainly dealt with many fears from my past and God has done miraculous healing over and over with this area. A major difference between fears of past and fears of future are the fears of past are based on actual things which happened and left a good deal of damage for me to address which meant hide them for much of my life. However, these fears of the future are a totally different animal. There is nothing tangible about them. They only connect to “what if’s” or “maybe this or that”. Addressing them is like trying to sit on a balloon and it just bulges out one side or the other. There is never any comfortable spot for relaxing.

Bringing God into this cave of darkness relating to my future has been quite amazing. There is nothing in this cave but fear itself. The uncertainties of life live there. In exposing this I have found it so much easier to simply say–“You don’t own me anymore!” Giving these fears over to God and letting Him flip the Light switch to “on” has allowed this to happen. Believing &Trusting are key elements. Knowing that the God Who brought about such healing from the darkness cave of my past is the same God Who helps us with the darkness for the future, brings all kinds of FAITH! I also have learned that this is more than a one-time event. Surrendering fear needs to be done as frequently as it arrives. The face of fear looks much like the face of evil–Satan himself. He flees from the Light of God–Jesus. I’m so grateful to now have God’s Light to shine in this area.