We all know people whose fire for The Lord doesn’t burn as hot as it once did. The bright light that was such an inspiration, such a beacon for Christ, struggles to even be visible. Maybe you are that person. You remember the joy of walking so closely to your Savior and now find the world smothering your passion.
As I sat in a bible study the Lord laid an image on my heart that was so clear it filled my mind and sparked my imagination. Living a worldly life is comparable to drowning. When we try to find our peace, joy, or purpose in earthly things we end up empty and alone. The lack of fulfillment causes us to struggle harder and to seek greater extremes to find the joy we remember. We can recall what we found in Christ but struggle to find the foothold we want to stop struggling against drowning in our sinfulness, pride, self-focus, and earthly desire. I imagine the panic and hopelessness of drowning and the inability to overcome the desperation, unable to remember what solid ground felt like. It’s kicking and fighting to stay afloat as hope sinks below the surface. We look up from under the water trying to remember what fresh air in our lungs felt like. It was this kind of feeling that caused the image the Spirit gave me to flourish in my struggling heart.
We struggle but our Savior walks on water and commands the seas to be calm. When Peter focused on Jesus he was able to walk on water too. It’s in a Christ focused existence that we can walk on top of the turbulent seas of worldliness, and that Christ can command those waves to be calm or show us how to let the water roll off our back as He leads us by example. When we take the right hand of God and allow Him to lead again, the water we once allowed to cover us becomes a mist, noticeable but harmless.
We are called to seek first the kingdom of God, focused on Christ, walking on the water with Him. We can be sure that even when we fall away and lose our focus on Him, His focus never leaves us. His hand is always outstretched and waiting for us to take it again. The world and all of the temporary things in it will quit on us and leave us alone and empty. We have a promise that our eternal God will never leave nor forsake us. Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5 quoting Deuteronomy 31:6)
I found the picture above, it’s the closest one to the personal picture the Spirit gave me. I hope it helps make these words more real and reignites the hope in your heart that will fuel your fire.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
Many people think of pride as someone who thinks they are better than those around them. People focus on the “chest beating” pride that is the most outwardly evident form. The dangerous kinds of pride are the less obvious types. These are self-reliance and self-focus. All pride drives us away from God and opens up a foot-hold for the deceiver. God opposed the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6) Pride is the reason the devil was cast out of heaven and is the source of all sin. The pride of the deceiver is what causes him to oppose God and oppose those who serve God here on earth. Any pride that you hold is a connection to the nature of satan and a barrier to closeness with the Lord.
It is human nature to try and do things for ourselves in our own way. We drift from reliance on God. This sinful nature draws us into a life soiled by pain, frustration, and worry. We feel out of place and unsettled as we try and mask the missing peace with worldly pleasures through more self-reliance. These earthly “band-aides” leave us deeper in despair. Someone who lives in self-reliance builds a house with no foundation. When they fall there is no limit to the depths of that trouble.
On the other hand, we can fight that nature. We can rely on God. He desires us to rely on His provision and designed us to walk in reliance on Him. We were designed for a purpose and God wants us to walk in His light. If we follow the path of God we a fulfilled and at peace in our journey through life. We draw closer to God in reliance on Him and the deceiver loses his ability to draw on the pride that causes self-reliance. God calls us to humility and submission so that He can lead us in the peace and joy found in Him.
Humans are selfish by nature. From birth we think only of ourselves. The dangerous position of self-focus causes many things that create deep turmoil in our live. This kind of pride is the source of anxiety, depression, anger, unforgiveness, etc. It’s sad to see the world turn to medication over God. When we think the world revolves around us or that we deserve more than we do, we fall victim to pride. We are anxious when we think we can control the things around us. We get depressed when we don’t get what we feel we should or feel the way we want. Anger occurs when we feel wronged because we don’t deserve undesired treatment or belong in a certain situation. We have trouble forgiving when we want additional attention for the wrong we perceive. All of those situations find their source in personal opinions on what we think should be true.
We have to turn to God and realize our mission on earth is to serve the growth of His kingdom and to glorify Him as His image bearers. The world owes us nothing. We have no control over the outcomes when God is in control. People are not focused on how we are affected by their actions because their fallenness causes them to be self-focused. It’s not our job to hold anyone accountable for the pride that we can now recognize. We must show them what humility looks like as they continue to walk in pride. Their escape from the prison of pride is between them and God. Focus on God and His plans. Focus on your involvement in His kingdom and turn away from the temptation to make any situation revolve around you.
The most dangerous part of pride is that pride keeps us from seeing the pride in ourselves and others. We cannot admit the existence of our pride because our pride will not allow it. That is the reason why, even in the eyes of defeat, the devil cannot admit to himself that he cannot defeat God. People cannot see their own pride so you cannot call out their flaw. You must be an image bearer of humility and love that draws them to God’s peace that radiates from you. If you read this and find pride in your heart, you can thank God for that revelation and know that He personally is calling you out of the darkness of sin. You cannot see your own pride without the humility God gives you. The cycle of pride requires Godly intervention to break. Thank God for His continued work in and through you. Love others in their fallenness and draw close to God who loves you too much to lose you to pride, the source of all sin.
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly/ so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all
The absence of harmony and the presence of arrogance create an uneven terrain with which we identify with the people around us. Not only are we prevented from growing people but we are prevented from personal growth as well. The ‘lowly’ have a point of view that has great value. The lowly of spirit draw us closer to God in their desperation and need. The lowly of wealth rely on the provision of God in a much deeper manner than the more successful. The lowly in years exude a child-like faith that we are all called to and can learn from. The ability for all of God’s children to find harmony can grow in the power of their diversity. The mingling of views and the intertwining of spiritual gifts draw us closer to the infinite God in understanding and praise for the depth we can never truly comprehend. Live peaceably as much as that depends on you. Don’t let your anger or pride the determining factor in the harmony of your life. Leave that to the Lord and watch the amazing people He brings into your life so that together we can mature in spirit and see Him better.
Let’s consider some of the promises given to us through Jesus Christ: newness of life (Romans 6:4), salvation (Romans 6:23), become a child of God (John 1:12), righteousness of God (Romans 3:22), eternal life and escape from judgement (John 5:24), justification through grace (Romans 3:24). These are the things freely given to us as gifts from the Creator and Sustainer of the universe when we decide to accept reconciliation to Him through His son which He offered to any who choose to receive.
There are also things offered to believers which require us to allow God to work in us through His spirit. (Philippians 2:12b-13) work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. These are things that we cannot do on our own. We need God to act in us in order to overcome the sinfulness given to us in original sin. We need the Holy Spirit to renew our minds, to break out of our personal strongholds, to overcome temptation, to drive away the deceiver, to understand God’s word, to guide us in God’s will for our life, to discern God’s will, to be our joy and light in this dark world, and to be God in us! The problem with some is that they expect God to pour these things on us. It doesn’t work that way. These things are grown in the hearts of believers as fruit when the believer matures in their walk with the Lord. God is too wise to hand such powerful things to us in our spiritual youth. As we grow in relationship with the Father He makes these things available to us. Human wisdom has parents who set up trusts for their children so they don’t squander the gifts they receive. How much wiser is our Heavenly Father? God makes all of these things available to His children, but His wisdom is in His timing and our maturity.
Don’t lose hope when God doesn’t hand you understanding or doesn’t deliver you from situations you have walked into. Know that you may not be ready to fully understand that moment yet or that you still need to grow in your painful situation. (Romans 8:28) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Know that God wishes to bless you more than you desire to be blessed. He knows that those blessing deserve to be used for His greater purpose in you. Come close to God, get to know His heart for you, and never doubt that the same spirit that flowed through and raised Christ is in you; and available to glorify God in ways that surpass your imagination.
Part of our Christian walk is to look to The Father for guidance and to let Him light our path. God’s plan for our life will always be better than our own. In moments of quiet God will give you direction. He will place a promise on your heart so that you can see the outcome of His provision. The difficulty at that point is handing that promise back to Him so that He can develop it in His timing. We have a tendency to strive under our own strength to accomplish His will. We do it with the best of intentions, we want to serve the Father. Our direction shows obedience but our timing doesn’t. We end up settling for a lesser version of what God desires for us. We stop growing toward the completeness we are called to in Him. We then have a choice to live a lesser life or to let go of that partial provision so that we might see His full glory.
Now we are forced to deal with the pain of loss, or the anticipation of waiting on His timing. It’s God’s desire to groom you during the waiting process so that you can fully receive what He has for you. God’s ultimate desire is to mold you into His likeness. We have to be ok with whatever that process looks like. Knowing that waiting is a God ordained process gives us a reason to rejoice. If you know God made you a promise, it belongs to you. Nothing you or anybody else does can take away His provision. Worship God for speaking into you and being the light of your path. Take the time to enjoy the walk with Him that culminates in fulfilling the promises He gives to you.
Adam Gave It Away
I was considering the fallenness of the earth and the fact that the earth is under the control of satan. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. (2 Corinthians 4:4) The world falls deeper into the chaos of sin every day. People think of sin as the big things (murder, assault, rape, etc.), but in fact the world is covered in sin when you compare us to the holiness of God. The world God gave us was covered in His glory, and it was very good! And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:31) The world has fallen into darkness (away from God’s light) and its sinfulness is so prevalent that people don’t recognize it anymore. Sin has become normal and everyone is desensitized to it.
I began working through Genesis today for a group study and had a thought in regards to all of this. God gave the world to Adam and Eve. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion… (Genesis 1:28) Adam and Eve were given dominion over all of the earth and its creatures! But above we see that satan is the god of this world. We have to realize that Adam gave satan this world in original sin. In God’s light Adam ruled over all of God’s creation, but in sinful darkness, satan is lord. I say this to illustrate how sin gives the deceiver power. Sin gives him a foot hold in the lives of all people. When hearts are turned back to God and made pure in the blood of Jesus, satan is defeated. God’s light drives out darkness. The same goes for your mind, heart, and life. Give God control of everything and walk in His light. Satan doesn’t have dominion over you if you refuse to give it to him, in sin. Don’t make the same mistakes we see in Adam. Let him be our example and let Jesus be our way out. Only with the help of the Holy Spirit can you escape the darkness. The Spirit of God is yours in Jesus. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:17-19)
When emotions run high and fear creeps in: stop in the silence/stillness of God. (1)Identify what is real, (2) what this can teach us, (3) how God can act through this, and (4) how we can show God to others in that moment.
- (1) Ask God to speak truth to your heart. Know that you are prone to sin and the temptation to react without guidance. Be honest and show humility when you examine your own heart. Seek to discover what is real so proper action can be taken.
- (2) After we know the real emotion, find its purpose in your situation. What can it teach us about ourselves? What can it teach us about others? What can it teach us about our role in this situation (are we to learn or be an example to teach others)? Every situation is a chance to learn!
- (3) Can you identify how God is acting through the situation? Who is He spurring toward growth or realization? What defenses are being broken down or weakened? Is He drawing people closer to Him? Is He providing provision that might be missed in the presence of high emotion?
- (4) How can you be His example? Maybe God has brought you a difficult situation so that you might show others the power of the Spirit in your life, what reliance of God really looks like. Being an example of God creates more change than being a person of words. God let Lazarus die, which brought Jesus to tears. He did this so that He might be glorified when Jesus brought Him back to life!