Wow! The last day of this 2020 year. Some have called this year the worst year of the century. Personally, I will just say that it has been a year to watch and see how God orchestrates outcomes which are beyond the reach of man. Our country, our world, our universe was all created by the same God. Man was place on this earth and given dominion over it with the understanding that God was its creator. Today man seems to think he is the one who can orchestrate our world’s outcomes ignoring the key–we are not the creator–GOD is. God asked us to be good stewards of what He has given us. He never told us to try and replace Him. My firm belief is that we are stepping into the reality of man’s attitude towards God. What a sad reality too.
All of this doesn’t mean that God is not working. For each of us who do believe and who do want His Son to be Lord of all, we trust Him and rely on Him. Yesterday was a great example of Christ Jesus at work. Just as I’d finished my devotions I got a call that one of our men’s grandson had taken his life–19 years of age. Right after that call I got another one saying he’d been kicked out of his residence. He has been sober for over a year but he relapsed and he has to be out of the residence today. Could I help, he asked? Late afternoon I did an inventory with a young man who is in the step study we presently have going for men. By last night the inventory had given tremendous Light from God to this young man. The other man found a place that welcomes him today. The grandpa and wife headed to their daughter’s home to offer God’s Grace at this most troubling time. Our prayers continue to be with them.
This is the God I know and serve. What God is doing at the scale of our country, world and universe–I leave to Him. He asks me to join Him where I am and where I see Him working. This is what I want to do faithfully for Him and with Him as this year ends and as the new one begins tomorrow.
I am always amazed seeing God work. Sometimes we get to be directly connected to it which is a great honor. I watched a young man yesterday be awakened to some realities in his life as he shared his inventory with God, himself and me. The issues within the inventory are his to tell, but the outcomes of his telling are much like all of us who go through the process–God sheds tremendous LIGHT showing what our next steps are for finding great freedom from the bondage of sin and replacing it with the surrender of ourselves.
This morning I finished reading II Kings. What an endless accounting of men, just like you and me, who would not let go of their selfishness to realize the beauty of living for our Great God. Maybe its because my relationship today is much better with God, but I shake my head in grief wondering why we endlessly continue the sins of the past as we live in the presence of today. We are not good students of history or we would not continue to repeat it as we do. Some say the greater the sin, the stronger the bond man has with God once we turn it over to Him.
I lived in the denial of sin’s effect for much of my life not wanting to face it within me. However, now that I have, I ache for others to know the difference between living committed to God, surrendering all to Him, verses living in the tentacles of sin’s grip. This grip was seen yesterday by the young man I mentioned above. Today he is beginning the life of stepping away from it. The journey is not easy, but his determination is strong and he has the King of the universe now fighting his battle with him. Praise God!
The house is very quiet–the first indication that everyone is gone except Kathy who is snoozing away. There are remnants in many places indicating that there has been a “grandkids’ storm” very recently, but it has subsided! The clean-up won’t take too long! It was a fun 48 hours having most of the family here.
Today starts with our quartet singing for a funeral of a man we had sung for only a couple weeks ago. Six days after we sang, he passed. His wife asked if we’d sing for his service which is in just a few hours. This afternoon I will listen to one of the young men in our step study as he tells me his inventory. This young man has shown nothing but commitment to his need for overcoming. I’m proud of him for this and today I pray God will open his eyes to what he needs to do for next steps and where he needs to let go.
The message of last Sunday regarding the new creation vs the old self is still being addressed. Today’s message hits it squarely. Paul, in Acts 23:1, describes the good conscience he had. He is saying, “Well, Lord, I can go to sleep with a perfectly good conscience”. He goes on to describe what he did to keep a good conscience. “Therefore I always exercise and discipline myself (putting to death my bodily cravings, deadening my carnal affections, bodily appetites and worldly desires) to have a clear conscience…” Joyce Meyers writes that our new creation is still flesh. The flesh still craves what could turn into sin if we act on it. The Holy Spirit’s presence within us is able to help us stop stepping into sin as we do as Paul is writing. I needed this clear message and it is so timely. God is always perfect in His timing!
Today the house of full of sleeping folks in most every room. I’m not sure how many spent the night as I went to bed soon after the two littlest grandkids did. My job is to feed everyone breakfast once they begin to arise. Christmas dinner and gift sharing came a few days late this year but it still happened. The unplanned part was that our Oklahoma kids were opening their gifts from us as the same time we were. Even the text messages had us filling our dishwashers at the same time. Fun little details making it not quite so sad we couldn’t all be together. May is coming in a few months so it will be nice to have us together then when the garden is growing!
My devotional message yesterday was in direct alignment with our Step Study lesson–Victory which took place yesterday late morning. Total surrender is the key. As I shared with the guys what God had opened my eyes to about the old self vs the new creation, the heads were nodding. I think everyone who comes to Celebrate Recovery struggles with self-esteem. Surrendering self to God is known to be important. The problem is that we want to surrender our old self hoping it will then give us a new self (creation). The fact we are already a new creation from accepting Christ into our hearts is lost in the lies we believe. These lies are some of the character defects we begin to replace with God’s Holy Spirit’s help. It has taken me a number of years to fully believe I am a new creation and not think that believing this is arrogant. In reality, it is one of the most humbling truths.
I love how relentless and kind The Holy Spirit is. He is not going to let us continue our walk with Jesus Christ believing Satan’s lies. One day at a time He keeps bringing these to the forefront of our minds until we finally see the truth. Thank You Father for this LOVE!
As I read my two devotionals this morning I was awakened to a reality which had not hit me until this now. The one devotional’s topic was Surrender. It had three subtopics for this larger one. They were: Surrender for Deliverance, Surrender for Devotion and Surrender for Death. Deliverance was about surrendering our will so we can be delivered from its attraction to evil. Devotion was about self so we can genuinely be devoted to living the life of Christ in us. The last, Death, is a matter of “being united with Jesus in the likeness of His death until nothing ever appeals to you that did not appeal to Him.”
As I was reading this passage in the devotional I was struck by the reality that today I am a new creation. I am no longer the man who is ashamed of the person God created. I have begun to know what self-love, self-appreciation and self-confidence is. So what hit me this morning is that today I can surrender not a defeated, abused believer; I can surrender a new creation! As this reality hit me I began to realize that it is the new creation for which the Holy Spirit resides. I was trying to have Him reside in the old self which was never going to be cleansed for Christ had replaced him with a new creation. Now that I have this firm belief grounded in me, I can surrender this new creation in these areas stated above: deliverance, devotion and death. I can grow into the truth where “nothing ever appeals to me that does not appeal to Christ Jesus”. This is one day at a time and I rejoice in this new Light as my journey continues.
Yes, the journey continues. Christmas is past by only one day, yet the celebration of family sharing will not happen until all of us can convene tomorrow. I hadn’t realized until yesterday how much the family sharing overshadows the genuine meaning of Christmas. I’ve always thought the sharing of gifts was similar to Christ sharing Himself for each of us. However, now having the reality of this separation, I easily see what I missed most of all yesterday was the assembling of everyone together. The gift of Christ’s birth is to be the sole reason we have a Christmas. I didn’t like realizing this morning that my actions reflect differently. Yes, I do get caught in the “giving of gifts–it is fun,” but I sure don’t want it overshadowing the best GIFT of all, Christ Jesus!
Today is Christmas! It is the birthday of our King of kings and Lord of lords. I love the fact that no matter the turmoil of our nation or any nation on earth, the genuine truth is no man is king and or lord for Jesus Christ alone is on this throne! Lets worship Him together this day and each day to come!
I have written about the changes for this Christmas. I think most of us are experiencing disruptions to our traditions this year. The one tradition which will not be disrupted is the truth of this celebration–Jesus Christ is born. Bethlehem was the birthplace for this baby who grew into His purpose for coming–Savior and Lord for all of mankind who will believe and accept Him as their personal Savior and Lord. One of my devotionals this morning reminded me that our heart is the personal Bethlehem for Jesus. He came so we could let Him be born in our hearts giving us new life–eternal life with Him, His Dad–Father God–and the precious Holy Spirit.
Don’t let the opportunity slip by if Jesus is not your personal Savior. We celebrate His birth in Bethlehem today and Jesus wants to celebrate with you when you let your heart be the new Bethlehem. Just ask Him to come into your heart and give you new life–the offering of eternal life with Him along with a much richer earthly life while we are here.
Merry Christmas everyone!
The activities which surround Christmas are taking place. I am wrapping presents to be placed under the tree and ones for the stockings. This is today’s assignment–get this finished. Kathy is busy preparing for meals and having the house in order. What’s different is who will be here. All the activities in preparation are the same. However, the motivation behind these activities is much less. Knowing the time with family is being changed makes the activities much less inviting. However, family will be here so we move ahead as though all the family will be here. I know we will have a joyous time because everyone wants this to be the case. I don’t want to lose out on the blessings of this year just because things are different.
The birthday of our KING is almost upon us. We will celebrate together in our hearts, this life-changing event. I know we will talk and laugh and play games and eat to our heart’s content. More importantly than all this is our thanks to God our Father for giving us His Son–Jesus to save us and redeem us. I bow my head in reverence, but I lift my hands in praise and adoration!
Yesterday was a powerfully, meaningful day for me. God opened a door of tremendous darkness within me that I now can call a lie from Satan. He has replaced it with the the very LIGHT of His Truth. There is a saying I heard almost 50 years ago and have always used: “Emotions are neither right nor wrong, they simply are. It is what we do with them that is right or wrong.” I’ve believed this but I could never give myself the privilege to believe that my emotions fell into this category. That is now gone and I can remind myself that I am no different from any other of God’s creations.
I keep hearing from so many that this Christmas season is turning out to be one to endure as this entire year has been. This is not different for us. However, I know that when I lift my eyes from the issues of today to the very Jesus Who came to us so many years ago at this time, I rejoice instead of lament the season. The things of this earth are troubling. They will likely get even more so as the years move on and we get closer to Christ’s return. However, as best I can, I will lift my eyes to Him–Jesus Christ my Savior and Lord. He is the first and only reason for Christmas and I never want to do anything but celebrate Him on His birthday only two days away.
At 4:45 this morning I awoke to a sense that it was time to arise and see what God wanted me to know from Him. The coffee pot wasn’t set to be done this early so I had to get it perking first. As I began to journal I had several things I wanted to put before God to be sure I was on track with Him. After I’d written them down I asked my daily question: “What do You want me to know from You for today, Jesus?” All I heard was, “My son, your heart is sad.” With that I began to cry and cry. The overwhelming sadness of Christmas without our entire family being together brought much sadness. But, the biggest sadness was the reality of living the rest of my life with a different picture of life with my sisters in California. I’m so grateful that Bonnie is recovering so well, but in spite of this, living where she has must change along with things like driving, caring for herself all by herself, etc.
As I was writing all of this down in my journal in response to Christ’s message about my sadness, I felt nudged to allow more of His Light to be shed on this emotion: sadness. As I allowed myself to look at this sadness I was reminded of something Bonnie told me on the phone yesterday afternoon. She said she and one of my brother’s had talked Sunday afternoon. My brother had told her I was a blessing to our family unlike anyone else in it. She asked me if I knew this and added that I needed to believe it. Why should this bring sadness? As I began to let God speak to me, He showed me how I’ve had this false belief that my emotions were my weakness so I had to keep them suppressed and deny they exist within. Any emotion I had was compared to dad and his savage way of handling his own. I began to see how deeply this lie was rooted in me. I have been ridiculed and shamed since early childhood about my nature. I’d cry over such little things like the TV program Lassie. Every week I’d cry when she’d rescue someone in the program. Dad and my brothers would ridicule me to the point of shame but I couldn’t keep the tears away so I simply grew up knowing I MUST control them as best as I could knowing men did not act this way.
I could write a book’s chapter on this, but the outcome of this morning has been a tremendous Light from God penetrating a reservoir of darkness within me. I felt God nudging me to go talk with Kathy. I knew she’d be asleep, but…. When I finally finished I said I would let her go back to sleep. Her response was, “Don’t leave, I still want to visit!” It was 6:30 am!
With the Light of this morning has come a great deal of acceptance for me of who I am. God made me this way and my brother even called me a blessing and my sis said I am to believe it. I fell as though God is telling me this morning that He made me to be this–a blessing. My word–could this be true?! Well, God said, “Yes, it is true.” Sixty-five years ago my dad would have said this was arrogant and he would need to kill my spirit for even saying such a thing. However, all these years later, God wants me to know I don’t need to be sad any longer about who I am. He made me just the way He did to be a blessing to Him and others. I told Him thank you for this and I’m very grateful! For the sadness I have for Christmas season, I’ve cried recognizing it is part of grieving, and now I’m ready to let God be glorified in it. My sadness isn’t something any longer for me to be ashamed. Instead, I have a deep appreciation for all God has given me. I’m momentarily sad, but I am deeply appreciative!