As this journey continues so does my learning about how critical it is to have Jesus at the forefront of each day’s walk. The last couple of days I’ve addressed what Jesus is pointing out about my need to praise Him. As I’m practicing this periodically throughout the day I find that praise is much more of an expression for trust, faith, hope–those things for which we have not seen or touched. Giving thanks is much more tied to things which have completed themselves or things which have begun and are on the right track. My personal awakening in this has been the reality that “I thank” far more than “I praise”.
My growing up years were ones of much abuse. I understand now that my brother’s sexual abuse/use of me stemmed back to the fact I was kind to him. There is a gene in my blood line which has little kindness in it and instead is judgmental and critical. This was from my father’s lineage. My other brothers were critical of this brother so he chose me. He use to tell me at times when there wasn’t abuse taking place that he liked that I was nice to him. The critical side of my father would label me as needing to have my spirit broken so I’d be tough and my interests would be more like a “man”–competitive, mechanical, sports-minded, etc. Somehow in all of this I learned to quit hoping. Instead, I would thank if something actually took place which was good.
Today God is teaching me that my past is GONE. This new creation can praise knowing who my ONE TRUE GOD is. He is praiseworthy for no matter the strife of the day, I can praise God in it. There is nothing which man does which God cannot use in His toolbox if we turn it over to Him. Last night in Celebrate Recovery this became true once again. Two new men were present. Both of them stated how grateful they were to hear other men talk openly about the very things they thought they could never mention out loud. One of the men’s topic was childhood sexual abuse. GOD IS AMAZING!
Little did I know as I wrote yesterday’s blog that I would be challenged to praise God as I watched the actions of Americans in our capitol city and listened/watched the intense strife within our country. I went to bed knowing I was going to praise God and I closed my eyes praising Him, but feeling distraught as I did. This morning as I was journaling and asked Jesus what He wanted me to know from Him for today, He indicated that when my eyes drift to man I am going to see strife. The more our nation and other nations turn away from God and look unto themselves for answers, the more strife will be evident. Keeping my eyes on Jesus is the only way to continue to see a picture of a beautiful today and tomorrow. Everything about man is temporary in the flesh. I can praise God as I look up to Jesus and keep my eyes fixed on Him rather than man. This may become more and more difficult, but difficult or not, my eyes are going to look up!
PS–In yesterday’s blog I wrote that the name of the song was “Praise Him”. It’s correct title is “Praise the Lord”. My apologies!
The message of today for me is praise. As I’ve been reading through I Chronicles I find so much evidence of David giving praise to God. As I go through my journal I find that I am good at giving thanks to God, but I am not nearly as good at praising Him. These are two different actions and praise isn’t nearly as good for me. Years ago I read the book, The Language of Love which outlined praise as one of the love languages. I’ve always enjoyed but hated hearing praise because I didn’t know what to do with it. My dad would say I was “big headed” if I were praised and I never wanted to be arrogant so I learned to deflect praise rather than accept it. I’m better at receiving it today (a little) but I need to grow in giving it.
Joyce Meyers writes at one point that God asks us to praise Him and in so doing it releases His Power to stay focused on Him during our day. I really appreciated this message because when I do praise it takes my eyes away from anything I’m focused on and puts them on God Himself. So, today I’m going to be working on praising God throughout my day. Instead of fretting when I’m up against something, I’ll praise God.
About 40 years ago there was a song that hit the gospel trail called, Praise Him. The first verse said, “When you’re up against a struggle that shatters all your dreams, and your hopes have been cruelly crushed by Satan’s manifested schemes, and you feel the urge within you to submit to earthly fears, don’t let the faith your standing in seem to disappear. Praise the Lord–He can work through those who praise Him–Praise the Lord!” The song goes on, but this message is what I want to keep in my head as I pursue Praising God today–one day at a time, one moment at a time.
In response to yesterday’s post regarding God’s covenant with man through Jesus Christ allowing us to become more like Jesus, led me to visit my prayer warrior. I have been sensing my need to talk with her about what God has been showing me in regards to being a new creation. By 9:30 am I was in her home. I told her about the Light God is shedding on being a new creation. I had been using the 3-R’s as things were revealed. For example, the addiction had been pornography, the latest temptation has been to look not a porn, but to look at suggestive pictures. However, I knew this would lead to other temptations which I didn’t want to go to. The scripture I keep with my prayer list, Habakkuk 3:19 says in part: “…He makes my feet like hind’s feet and will make me to walk and make progress upon my high places.” This is exactly what God is doing in helping me make progress on the high places. Now I recognized it, I had rejected it and I needed to replace it.
I brought all of this out to Lois, my prayer warrior. Her response was startling to me. The first thing she said was that all of this helps me relate well to the men struggling to find the freedom I now know. Then she went on to say that her most recent nudge from God comes from Psalms 23 which says in a phrase, “…I shall not want.” As I’ve been pondering this with God since yesterday morning I keep getting the reminder that just before the phase of “I shall not want”, is the statement: “The Lord is my Shepherd”. If the Lord is my Shepherd it is then that I can live and not want. I have wanted to be a new creation, I have wanted to have freedom, I have wanted to have my past demolished and remembered no more, I have wanted to be free of temptations which remind me of my past, I have wanted and wanted! Yet, scripture has reminded me that my job is to “not want”. God is helping me to make progress on my high places and while He is doing this, He reminds me that I don’t need to want for He is the Good Shepherd who will care for all my needs including those given by the enemy. God’s Light sure does penetrate darkness!
Today I was to be on the road to one of the schools. Instead, I’ll be on a phone call at 8:00 am to decide how I can best be of assistance from a virtual platform. Tomorrow morning I’m to meet virtually with the two districts along with the coordinator for the consulting to make decisions on this. I haven’t been able to see this taking place (in my mind) and making the difference that needs to happen. I’m asking God to shed His Light on the conversations of this morning and tomorrow morning so what takes place is fully how He wants it to be. Our kids are not getting what they need in today’s educational setting. We need God’s insight and in receiving this insight, we need to obey.
Yesterday’s message in this blog continues into today as I had my devotions this morning. God’s covenant with us through His Son Jesus Christ offers us the opportunity to be more and more like Jesus in our character and our actions. This is only an opportunity if we don’t allow The Holy Spirit to change us as we surrender to Jesus the parts of us The Holy Spirit points out needing to be surrendered. God is pointing out that it is one thing to admit what needs to be addressed in our life, but it is a different thing to confess it–taking action to actually surrender it with the intent to no longer let my selfish will be done.
Being a new creation, believing and knowing this is true, gives us the opportunity to grow in Christ like I never thought possible. How wonderful our God is!
I’ve started a new devotional this year. It is called, Morning by Morning, the devotions of Charles Spurgeon with updates from Jim Reimann. In today Charles writes that Jesus Christ was made to be a covenant for the people–you and I are included in this covenant. He goes on to say that our blessed Jesus, as God, is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. So, does He have the power we need to strengthen us, subdue our enemies and sustain us? Does He have the love we need? He asks us to dive into His immense ocean of love and say, “This is all mine!” Lastly, he asks if He has the justice we need? This justice is the assurance that everything promised in this covenant will be secured for us (me).
As I continued in my devotions I then read this sentence, “The true expression of Christian character is not in good-doing, but in God-likeness.” The covenant God made with Jesus for you and me included His work to help us become more and more like Him in our very nature. All I ever wanted in life was to NOT be like my father or like my one brother. This morning my eyes were opened to the possibility of becoming more and more like Jesus. As I began to pray and recognize the limited scope of vision I’ve had, I rejected it and asked Jesus to replace this mindset I’ve had with the beauty of His character He’s been wanting to give to me (to each of us) as we (I) recognize and surrender our all to Him.
Can you see yourself jumping into this “ocean of love” Jesus has for us? I don’t swim well at all, but as I pictured myself jumping into this ocean of love I simply floated in it. This all sounds to good to be true, but this is what God is instilling into me now that I know I’m a new creation. It is one day at a time and one moment at a time. Today, each moment of this day I want to praise Him for lifting my eyes to Him rather than where they have so often been–on the ills of man.
What a nice quiet beginning to a new year. Yesterday was one of those for which you sit back and say, “Now, that was nice.” The morning had us dismantling the tree and rearranging the family room’s furniture so I can now be in my rut for 11 months where I am most comfortable. Some of the kids and grandkids came for lunch and the afternoon where we played games. The evening was with Hallmark movies. That is a perfect example of a calm beginning.
I am sensing God’s leading for this year to be the one of total surrender. I’ve thought for several years that I have been, but this past year has brought to the surface the areas of fear I dreaded and had them faced. The main one of these has been the belief of being a new creation. For 6 months now I’ve lived knowing and believing I am one. I always had this hope that if this were possible then I’d be free of all temptations which looked anything like dad or my brother. A new creation couldn’t look like them. Well, truth be told, a new creation is still one of human flesh. Human flesh does have temptations just like all men do. The difference–acting on them.
What will be a new experience for this coming year will be to not fight temptations with my will power that often loses, but to learn what genuine surrender is like as a new creation. Learning what relying on the strength of surrender truly is. I’m going to face the voices that say a 70 year old man has lived too long to genuinely know this. I’ll be a student of Jesus Christ’s lessons as long as I’m alive in this body of flesh. So, this new year will be year 1 of being a new creation living surrendered one day at a time.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! I’ve never thought about the fact that New Year’s always comes in the dead of winter. The shortest days of sunlight are upon us, the weather is cold and dreary, yet it is a new year. Be happy! This tells me that I cannot let the circumstances which surround me determine my happiness. It has to be something much greater than circumstances/environment. This is why the assurance of Jesus Christ becomes so important. No matter what the circumstances are for which we face, Jesus Christ stands far above them all and He is right within us with His Holy Spirit to empower us so we can walk through them one day at a time, one moment at a time. I love this about Jesus and His relationship with us!
I was amazed last night at Celebrate Recovery to find that only a few of the regulars were present, but unexpectedly there were two couples with young children who came. Their reasons for coming sounded the same, they were hurting and needed support. What was causing the hurt was very different for each, but the underlying support needed was the same. They needed hope for their future and hope seemed to be what they found as they spoke with us.
I am always so amazed how God works and how unexpectedly He shows up. I pray this New Year has many unexpected blessings for you from God our Father. May He show up for you in places you never expected. This has been so true for me, even in this past year of unexpected trials. Our God is always Faithful and True. I give this year to Him and thank Him this day for it!
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!