The Fight to Live

Fighting Death

I think it is human nature to want to live, and to even fight to live. We do not want to be left by our loved ones and we do not want to leave our loved ones. Life is a sort of adventure, isn’t it? And we do not want to miss anything.

Today’s Passage

As we continue in Philippians 1 today, we know that Paul is for some reason contemplating his own death. There are definitely people who want him dead, no doubt. They want him silenced permanently.

In the last devotional text, he said “…Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”

Philippians 1:21-22

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.

Seeing Death Differently

So how is it we get from fighting death with white knuckles to the place where Paul is at this point in his life? I think that it all comes down to how well we know the One we plan on spending eternity with, once this life is over. Paul’s life took him through many trials, hardships, and joys. But, growing in his knowledge of God and continuing to grow in that knowledge and relationship is what made him prefer dying to living.

Let’s look at Verse 21:

“For to me to live is Christ…”

Paul is saying that for him to continue living on earth is for the purpose of Christ.

“…and to die is gain.”

Because for him to go be with Jesus in heaven will be his ultimate reward, fulfillment, and happiness.

Note about Suicide – Please know that this is not nor will it ever be a qualification for suicide. Suicide is never, ever God’s will. Please email me if you want to discuss this at all. dell.tapestry@gmail.com

Now on to Verse 22:

“If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.”

So if his earthly life continues on, then he will continue to serve Christ fully.

“…Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.”

Not that Paul had or would have a choice as to whether he live or die. He was leaving the timing of his death to God. But, contemplating being in heaven with Christ, his “Very Great Reward” was the absolute best thing he could think of. How he got there – as in how his earthly life came to an end – seemed of little consequence to him at this time.

To Die Is Gain

So how close are you to being able to say that to die and go be with Jesus is gain over living out life here on earth?

It is a really tough question.

Honestly

I can honestly say that I have so many things about this life that I love – watching my mom and dad’s love for each other and for God grow even deeper and stronger; watching with great pride as my nieces and nephews grow up and succeed and their parents standing by so proudly too, watching my granddaughter discover the world through a two-year-old’s eyes; watching my sons and their wives grow and blossom into the people God has created them to be; becoming more and more comfortable and deep in love with my husband of 33 years as we just do life together and watching him playing with our granddaughter; watching the people that I love be people who love the Lord.

The more I know the Lord, the more I am comfortable with going to be with Him, but for now, I am thoroughly enjoying the life He is giving me. May all our attitudes glorify Him and be in accordance with His will.

Just This Week

This week, I was again faced with a situation that made me say, “Lord, if I live… okay, and if I do not… okay.” I had dealt with this question years ago during my the journey through breast cancer. I do not have a terminal disease or anything now, but anytime I get a mammogram or something else like that pops up, the question of how long my life will be, always goes through my mind.

Not Paul’s Attitude

Make no mistake, this was not Paul’s attitude. I have not made it to that point. I was just surrendered to whatever outcome the Lord had in mind. That is not the same, is it?

“To live is Christ (Him, his sole purpose), and to die is gain.”

No, it is just not the same.

Delight

May we all delight in the Lord’s will above whatever we desire and may we truly know that as Paul says so clearly: The very best thing is to be in the very presence of the Lord – but in His time and on His terms. For now, let’s live this adventure for His glory!

Let’s Pray: 

Lord, thank You for Your Word. Please help us to be submitted to Your will moment by moment every day of our lives from here forward. Help us, Lord, to know You better and better so that we truly do look forward to the day we see You face to face in heaven. Help us to walk closely with You and have fruitful labor as we await that day. In Jesus’s beautiful, glorious name, I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

John 2:23-25

Knowing the Future

Knowing The Future

How good are you at resting in God for what is going to happen tomorrow?

I think I have an easier time with the future when I do not have a clue what is coming. When I have a clue, it leads me to have expectations which tend to get me into trouble.

I am a planner, to a fault, which helps me to be productive, but it also causes me not to handle the unknown challenges on the horizon as well as I should or could. I tend to freak out, then seek God’s peace. The better way would for me to begin with His peace. Dealing with the emotional aspects of the situations are much easier when His peace is guarding my heart and mind. Right?

Philippians 1:18b-20 ESV

Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

It seems to me that Paul was completely surrendered and at peace with whatever God’s will was for him at the time that he wrote this. He wanted to be with the believers at Philippi but if that was not what God had in mind he was okay with it. He did not seem to know what the future held for him, did he?

Let’s look at the last part of Verse 18:

“Yes, and I will rejoice…”

This is the end of the verses we looked at last time. Just before this Paul states that he will rejoice that the gospel is being proclaimed no matter what the motive. This part of the verse goes into the next sentence and paragraph. It opens this next paragraph with the fact that he will rejoice.

Now Verse 19:

“…for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance…”

Paul knew he was going to be delivered – set free – he just did not know how or when. He could be set free because his body was going to die and he would go be with Christ in heaven, or he could be set free by being released from prison.

And to the first part of Verse 20:

“…as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed…”

He wants to go into the future, no matter what it is, with strength, courage, faith, and peace in Christ. In doing that he knows that the Lord will be glorified.

To the rest of Verse 20:

“…but with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”

As we often see stated, Paul’s main thing is to honor Christ in every way possible, even in his death.

Having Peace and Courage

This courage is only by the power of God, right? There is no way anyone just musters up the courage of which Paul speaks. I have seen this kind of power absolutely carry beautiful godly people through the most impossible situations with His beautiful courage on their heads and His beautiful peace in their eyes.

We can always know, that in whatever we face, God wants us to have this miraculous courage and peace carry us through it. We will be made more ready to walk in it as we grow and mature in our relationship with Him. He wants this for His glory and for our good.

Whatever you are facing today, know that Christ’s courage is there for you. Seek God to know Him. Seek God to love Him. And seek God to walk with Him in every situation.

Let’s Pray: 

Lord, I thank You for loving us and helping us to face situations that we cannot face alone. Please help us to seek You with all our hearts so that we can know You well. Make us what You want us to be and help us live totally surrendered to You. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

John 2:13-22

Can God Use Anything?

God Can Use Anything He Chooses

God can use a sunset to speak to a heart. He can use the smell of rain on the breeze to help someone feel His peace. He can use a mishap to open a closed mind to His Word. God can use a tragedy to turn hearts toward Him. God truly can use anything!

Fear or Boldness

Have you ever seen someone stand up for what is right and then be severely punished for it? How did you react? Did it make you want to hide that you shared the same opinion? Or did it make you stand up boldly as well?

Tough question… tough decision…

Did someone else stand up boldly, only you knew they did not share the opinion of the first person. They just wanted the spotlight and/or to heat up the situation the first person was in even more – maybe saying that they heard him say this… and he said that…

Pretty disgusting huh?

Today’s Passage

A short time back, one of the Tapestry Devotionals was on the first three verses of today’s passage so I will not be covering them in detail this time. If you want to read that one, click here.

Today, we will continue to talk about the idea presented in verses 12-14, though. God can take what His enemy and ours intends for evil, and use it for good and for His glory. After all, He can really do anything He decides to do.

Pretty disgusting huh?

Philippians 1:12-14, 15-18a

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. so that it has been known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the Word without fear.

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here in defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

Paul was pleased to tell the believers in Philippi that the gospel was advancing even though he was stuck in one place. This is one of the ways that it is clear that Paul was not all about himself. He was all about Jesus!

Let’s begin in Verse 15:

“Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will.”

Envy & Rivalry

People saw Paul as a very powerful and influential man. He was powerful in the power of the Holy Spirit. They did not necessarily want the power to come from the Holy Spirit. They preached the gospel of Jesus Christ because they wanted the power and influence. The prestige that goes with being important was what they were after.

Good Will

There were definitely people who were also preaching out of the good will of just wanting others to hear the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.

Verse 16

The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here in defense of the gospel.

They are carrying on the mission of Paul, which is really the mission of Christ Himself and every believer in Christ.

Verse 17

The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.

Not only did they do it for power, but to afflict Paul, hoping to cause him trouble inside prison because the gospel had not stopped being proclaimed.

Verse 18

What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

Here again, we see that Paul’s primary concern is that people be sharing Christ. God can take what is intended for evil and make it for good and for His glory.

There are so many amazing accounts from the Columbine High School Massacre and aftermath. It is hard to believe it happened 19 years ago, seems like yesterday. It was a horrible, horrible tragedy. But God used it to bring so many young people to Himself. God used the testimonies lived out day by day of several of the victims, put together with the way they died and the things that happened in the aftermath to make those kids come face to face with their Savior and surrender to Him.

God is so, so very good. What Satan intends for bad, God can make good. That is a reason to Rejoice!!

Let’s Pray:

Lord, thank You so much for Your Word. Thank You for being in sovereign control. Please help us to know You better and better. Help us to glorify You with our days and our moments. In Jesus’s lovely name, I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

   John 2:1-12

 

 

 

Do You Have Enough?

Do you have enough?

Love – Do you have enough love in your life? I’m not talking about people who love you, but do you have enough in you for other people?

Knowledge – Do you have enough knowledge? General knowledge is great but what we need more than any other knowledge is the knowledge of the Lord. How well do you know Him? We all need to know Him better than we do. That is for sure!

Discernment – Discernment is not a word we hear much these days. It means being able to see clearly things that may not be seen by everyone else – like how God is leading you in answer to your prayer or you knowing upon meeting someone for the first time, that they are not going to be good for you and your relationship with God and that you should be careful or even stay away. Do you have enough discernment?

Today’s Passage

We continue today, in Philippians 1. Paul re-emphasizes how he misses and deeply cares about the people in this church family and we can also take this letter as our own as believers. He also shares more about how he is praying for them. These are things that we all need in our lives too!

Philippians 1:8-11

For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

A Wonderful Gift

Paul often prays for His readers in his letters. Have you ever thought about what a wonderful gift it is to have someone who prays for you? It is tremendous. To know that someone is taking time out of his/her busy life to pray for your needs is pretty huge. God makes a person think of you and then He prompts them to pray for you. He answers and everyone is blessed. Even if His answer is “no”, we are still blessed because as we have talked about before, His will is always best for us even if it is not what we prefer at the time. He is so good to us in so many different ways – layer upon layer of goodness.

And how about if God puts someone in your mind to pray for? Well, what a huge blessing and opportunity to be able to share in what God is doing in another person’s life.

The most interesting part is that neither party may ever even know they/you have been prayed for but it is really between the prayer warrior and God anyway. So, when God puts someone on your heart, take that beautiful opportunity and lift them up to Him. He is changing your life and theirs.

To Verse 8:

“For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.”

Obviously, God has kept the Philippian church forefront in Paul’s mind while he is in prison.

Verse 9:

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment…”

Paul prays that we will abound –  have plenty to the point of overflowing!

Love (of God), knowledge (of God), discernment (from God) –  We all need more than we have just as we need to always be growing. This comes from seeking Him day in and day out. The life of a Christian is to be spent seeking and pursuing God. We will never be finished with this primary task. What a wonderful purpose for living!!!

Verse 10:

“…so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ…”

In approving what is excellent, we can make decisions that keep us pure and blameless. Think about our time in Philippians 4:8-9. This sounds similar, doesn’t it? I think he is probably prefacing those verses here in Chapter 1.

Verse 11:

“…filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

Paul prays that the Philippians (and us as believers in Christ, too) will be filled with the fruit of righteousness. The next thing is the key to being filled with the fruit of righteousness.

It Comes through Jesus Himself

It, that fruit, comes through Jesus Christ. We cannot plant or tend it ourselves but we can cooperate with the Master Gardener – God Himself. He has planted in the good rich soil – the soil of faith which He put in us first.

Cooperate

What are we to do? When you and I see something in God’s Word that we clearly need to deal with in our own lives, we need to ask God to help us be obedient and to help us not to fight Him as He works on us. We must not resist Him as He makes us more like Him. The things He wants to remove from our lives will bad for us and bad for our relationship with Him so He will work on it until we let it go. The more quickly we let it go, the easier it will be.

There is nothing more wonderful than the Master Gardener pruning away dead limbs and little sucker branches to help us grow so that we can glorify Him more.

Let’s Pray:

Lord, thank You for loving us and showing us more and more of Yourself in Your Word. Help us to cooperate with You as You work on us to make us more like You in every way. Help us, please, to cooperate and be ready to let go of whatever You ask us to let go of. Make us what You want us to be. In Jesus’s name, I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

  John 1:43-51

 

A Miraculous Bond

A Miraculous Bond

Have you ever just really connected with another Christian even though you did not yet know that they were a Christian? Isn’t it amazing how that happens? This miraculous bond that makes you instantly just know each other better? You just feel this connection and then later find out through conversation, that they love the Lord too. Instant friends in Christ – I love it when that happens!! I had this happen several different times while I was practising real estate. I share a couple below.

Special Connection

One of the times, when my clients were very disappointed, at something that had happened, I told them that I believe that God takes care of His people. I told them I had really been praying for them and that I felt like what had happened was probably Him protecting them. They said they believed that too! Then I told them to call me if they wanted to talk and that I would be unavailable for a time the next day because it was Sunday and I would be in church. They said they would be in church then too! We were all even more excited to work together after that. They were a joy from day #1 and I knew they were special! What a huge blessing their little family was to me!

Instant Friends

Another time was with a client that I only got to actually work with a little, but they were moving from out of state. We would meet for coffee just to keep in touch even though it looked like they may not be buying. I did not care because we had this really neat connection. She and I remained friends after I stopped doing real estate and are still friends. I mentioned I was starting a devotional blog and she asked for the URL and gets it every day in her email. After she asked for it, I thought, “I knew she was a Christian!”

It is a God-Thing!

These bonds are a God-thing. It is one of the beautiful ways He blesses us as His children.

Ready to Talk About It

Now of course, because someone goes to church or reads a devotional does not automatically make them a Christian. But those outward signs add together and help us get us to a point when we can actually talk about it more openly.

Today’s Passage

In a previous devotional, we looked at verses 3-6. Today, we will continue on with Paul, in his letter to the church at Philippi.

Philippians 1:3-8 (focusing on 7) ESV

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.

Who Do You Run To?

It is such a blessing to have like-minded friends that you can bear your soul to when you need to. Do not get me wrong, we should never run to friends when we need to run to God. It is easy to do because we can see them and touch them. However, we need to habitually run to Him first. Do I have this as a habit in my own life?? Not even close. So, I need to work on it! How about you?

Let’s look at Verse 7:

“It is right for me to feel this way about you all…”

Paul feels an extra special bond with the church at Philippi because he is their spiritual father – he is the one who introduced them to Christ at the onset of their relationship. He loves them as dear children of his own, I think. And they are also his very dear friends.

“…because I hold you in my heart…”

There again Paul dearly loves these people and they are also a huge blessing to him.

Maybe you have a special relationship with someone who God allowed you to share with, or maybe you have a special relationship with the person who shared Christ with you or who God has used to help you grow. What a blessing!

I hold all of you in my heart!

I really do! I think of you guys throughout the day. I do not know who all is reading this but God does and I pray for each of you that He will draw you close and richly bless your life and your relationship with Him. You all are a huge blessing to me! You may wonder how if I do not even know you are reading this? Because I know that God has called me to do this and I know He does not waste. The people who read this devotional are reading it because He is in control, and He has brought you here. This is very humbling and though it scares me a little, I rejoice in the opportunity to share with you!

It is extra special when someone shares or comments – whether on the website, FaceBook or through email. But I do not do it for shares, comments or kudos.

“…for you are all partakers with me of grace…”

There it is! that common thread – partakers of grace. That beautiful miraculous bond!

Thank You, Lord, that you have poured Your grace out on us so lavishly!

“…both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.”

A Common Purpose

And just like Paul and the Philippians, we have a common purpose – to lift up and support each other and to share the truly good news of Jesus Christ when God gives us the opportunity. May we all be obedient in our tasks and may we carry them out with great joy!!

Let’s Pray:

Lord, thank You so much for Your beautiful Word. Thank You for showing us how to love You and love each other through it. Help us, please, to be what You want us to be and help us to glorify You with all we do. In the beautiful name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

John 1:35-42 

Survivor No More?

Survivor No More?

Are you a survivor? I am. I tend to use ‘survivor thinking’ in dealing with crises. Most of the time, I look at the situation and formulate a plan for survival emotionally and sometimes even physically. It is interesting that our verse for today and many other passages speak of dying to ourselves and giving our lives up to Christ, which would be the opposite of that, huh? Survivor no more; at least not in the way I was thinking.

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Lift It Up High

I am reminded of the soldier who carried our flag, ‘the colors’ into battle in the American Revolutionary War. The soldier’s mission was to carry that flag up high and out front. He was unarmed yet in the heat of the battle. That soldier did not have survivor thinking. His main priority was to keep that flag up high so that the other soldiers could see it and keep their bearings. He would die to meet his goal if necessary but the flag had to be held up. When this soldier did fall in battle another soldier would stop fighting the enemy, pick up the flag, and continue the mission of the first.

So much more, we need to lift up Christ. Our priority is to be that others see Him and follow. As we lift up Christ – making Him the priority in our lives – others will see Him in His greatness and be able to get their bearings as He draws them to Him. A survivor mentality is just not part of the life we live for the glory of God. Dying to ourselves is actually the goal. However, in dying to ourselves, we not only survive, we thrive. Pretty amazing how God does that for us!

Let’s go to the verse:

“I have been crucified with Christ… “

He gave His life for us and He calls us to give our lives for Him in glorifying Him and walking in fellowship with Him.

“…and I no longer live… “

Our old priorities no longer matter. Our old wants and old desires are irrelevant and our old focus is forgotten.

“…but Christ lives in me.”

His priorities become our priorities and His wants and desires become our wants and desires. His focus becomes our focus and His focus is God’s (His) glory.

Living by Faith

“The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God… “

As long as we are physically alive our lives should be consumed by the faith God has given us and in that, we are continually dying to ourselves.

Where does this faith come from? It comes from God. He gives us the faith to believe in the Son of God. As we mature in Christ our faith grows. How do that maturity and greater faith come about? They come about as we seek to know God through His Word and through prayer. This is the new survival plan!

Know Him, Trust Him, Love Him

We are no longer to be living for ourselves as Christians. The better we know God the easier it is to do. The better we know Him, the more we can trust Him, and the more we will love Him. This brings the freedom to stop struggling for your survival and let Him have control. Then surrender and obedience is a pleasure and a joy!

“…who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

The first thing to get into our heads as we grow in knowing Him is this:  Holy Son of God – King of All – left His throne in the splendor of heaven and came down here to this sin-sick world, suffered greatly, and then He died for me… and for you. The very least you and I can do is die to ourselves (our selfish wants, desires, and priorities) and live for Him. He died so that we can live – in Him a life full of abundant blessing. He gives us a life we cannot even imagine or plan or prioritize.

Maybe my surviving is not so important after all, but that I lift up Christ, way up high, and know that I will die in the process. Nevertheless, when I die to myself He will live in me! Let’s lift Him up so others can keep their bearings!

Let’s Pray!

Thank You so much, Lord, for loving us and drawing us to You. Thank You that we do not lose anything when we give everything up to You. Help us, please, to understand what it truly means to live for You and help us, please, to do it! Lord, help us to lift You up in the way You call us to so that others can see You and keep their bearings. I love You, Lord! In Jesus precious name. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

  2 Corinthians 5:14-15

 

What Can Satisfy?

What Can Satisfy Us?

Years ago, I was in a Bible study and this verse was highlighted. That God could satisfy me was a new idea to me. I had never realized how dissatisfied I was. If I do not make a conscious effort to long for God and not the things of this world, I find myself very dissatisfied still today.

Psalm 90:14

“Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love,                            that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

Why Are We Not Satisfied?

God created each one of us with a longing to be close to Him.  Often, we do not easily accept this longing as a longing for God. So, we humans search in many other places to find satisfaction. Nothing else will satisfy so we tend to get into a massive mess going from one thing to another or just going overboard with one thing. We try things like relationships, food, drugs, alcohol, shopping, etc. These lead to broken hearts, obesity, addiction, depression, credit card debt, etc. It is not pretty but it is accurate. Even in these conditions, we are still not satisfied and we never will be. Only God can satisfy the longing that He placed in us. He did not create us this way to make us miserable, but to draw us to Him so that He can satisfy us.

There is another reason we may find ourselves in a state of dissatisfaction. We all have a past, don’t we? Bad things that should not happen do and good things that should happen do not. Think about your life: Is there something that you feel you missed out on or were victimized by.  The good news is that God can satisfy us in those heartbreaking situations too. This Mighty God is the Creator of our hearts and the Lover of our souls. He is truly Lord over everything and even though things do not always make sense, He knows our hearts and He loves us very dearly. He heals the brokenhearted and He satisfies with His great limitless love.

Please Satisfy Us, Lord

“Satisfy us in the morning…”

We need to start each day by going to God and asking Him to fill us and satisfy us. Otherwise, we will go through the day looking for what will satisfy that deficit. We make little and big decisions in that kind of day that can carry over for days, weeks, months, and even years. How often have you regretted a decision long after you made it? Was it a result of trying to satisfy a need only God can fill?

“…with Your unfailing love…”

What a beautiful thought. It is such a comfort to know that God’s love for us never fails. It never weakens, tires or grows stale. He is steadfast(unmoving) in how He loves us.

A Song in My Heart

“…that we may sing for joy… “

You know those days when you wake up with a song in your heart… okay maybe after a cup of coffee, but you know what I mean. Every single day, God wants to put a song in our hearts as He lavishes His great love upon us. You know that great lotion you have that you use sparingly because it was so expensive and you want it to last? Think about having an unlimited supply so that you can just slather it on and soaking it in – luxurious isn’t it? Well, that is how God’s love is. It is unlimited and unfailing. He wants to cover us in it. We only need to want it from Him and He gives it joyfully! That puts a song in my heart! How about you??

Be Glad

“…and be glad all our days.”

This phrase is talking about the kind of gladness that comes from a well of joy that resides deep inside us when God fills us to satisfaction with His unfailing love. It is not about being in a happy mood. It is about the joy of trusting in One who will never fail us no matter what the circumstances are.

I pray that He will satisfy you today and every day with His unfailing love, that you may sing for joy and be glad all your days!

Go Deeper Today:

   Psalm 63:1-8

 

The Battlefield

The Battlefield

Have you ever visited a historic battlefield? In my hometown, we have the Cowpens Battlefield which was the sight of a significant battle fought during the American Revolutionary War.  As beautiful as the grounds are when I am there I feel a little sad. As many times as I have visited there, I am haunted by the lives that were sacrificed and the blood they shed for my freedom over 200 years ago. That statement makes me think about what Jesus did for me over 2000 years ago and I am so grateful. As thankful as I am for my freedom as a citizen of the United States of America, my freedom in Jesus Christ is so much more! If you are a Christian, I know you understand what I am saying. Have you ever thought of the Hill of Calvary where Jesus died for us as a battlefield?

Today We are Going to Talk About Another Battlefield

2 Corinthians 10:1-4

“By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you – I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”

As I prepared to write today’s article, I struggled a little with what I needed to talk about. Then I looked back at the verses before the verse we looked at yesterday – 2 Corinthians 10:5. So today we are talking about the battlefield we fight on every single day. We are looking at Chapter 10:1-4 with most of our focus on verses 3 and 4. It may seem like we are going backwards, but we are actually simply building on yesterday.

A Quick Chat

We are going to quickly chat about verses 1 and 2 so that 3 and 4 make more sense.

“By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you – I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.”

The Corinthian Church was almost constantly dealing with some kind of issue. Just like us, they were far from perfect. They listened to the wrong people sometimes, they were selfish sometimes… As I am sure you have heard before, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” So true! Paul had started this church, put leaders in place to carry forth the mission of Christ, then continued on his missionary journey. Messages/letters would be sent back and forth between Paul and the leaders of the churches he had planted. These letters were how he could help them adhere to this mission.

At the time, they had people who were false apostles and were confusing the church members about how they were to strive to live. Paul was writing to help them see that some of them were misleading and others were being misled by them. God calls us, as believers, to live in a way that glorifies Him. I hope you are very familiar with how we as redeemed people are called to live and we will get into those very important details on another day. 

Verse 3

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.”

We talked a little about the Sword of the Spirit yesterday, and that it is the Word of God. So this sword belongs to the Holy Spirit of God. The war we wage is a war to live a life that glorifies God in the big stuff and the little stuff. God’s enemy is Satan and he does not want God glorified on earth. So, he does everything he can to distract us and draw us away from a life focused on God and His plan for us. Satan is our enemy too!

Verse 4

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they are divine power to demolish strongholds.”

Doesn’t sound like this is a physical battle with guns and missiles, does it? The battlefield is my mind and your mind. The weapons of the enemy are temptation, fear, worry, pride, anger, etc. That is why the Sword of the Spirit is so effective! God’s Word helps us to know how to battle and what to actually do on the battlefield of our minds.

For just a little insight into the term stronghold – it is a military term but I think of it as anything that has a “strong hold” on you. The only thing I want to have a strong hold on me is God. How about you?

Cares Jar Revisited

I mentioned my “Cares Jar” yesterday. What I failed to do is complete the picture for you. We can dominate the battlefield as God empowers us to do so, and here is how!

After I write the care/worry on the front of the index card and I find a scripture that helps me think the way God wants me to think about it and write it on the back. Then, I fold it and put it in the jar, symbolically giving it to God. Then, as the battle wears on about this particular thing that is worrying me, I remember the verse of scripture and work to overwrite the worry with the verse in my mind. It is God’s problem now not mine. If I keep worrying about it, I’ll take it back out of the jar and ask God to help me focus on what He has given me and help me hold onto His peace through it. And of course, I keep reading and thinking about that verse. God gave us His Word so that we can get to know Him and to use it to fight the enemy(learn to be a master swordsman!), but ultimately, the battle is the Lord’s and we must trust Him with it.

Let’s Go To the Lord in Prayer

Lord, thank You so much for You powerful Word. I thank You that You have not left us alone to do battle. You empower us, equip us and then fight it for us. I am amazed and so blessed by Your loving care for us. Please help us to understand who we are and how to live for Your glory and our good. In Jesus beautiful name. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

 . Romans 12:1-2

 

Controlling Our Thoughts

Can We Control Our Thoughts

Will they control us or will we control them?

Do you ever get a song in your head that you cannot seem to shake? I remember a little ditty from a TV show my kids watched when they were really small – Lamb Chop’s Play Along. The song is “This is the Song That Never Ends” and it really does not end! Madness!

Is it stuck in your head now? Mine too.

Thoughts get stuck in our heads too, don’t they? Like a video loop, replaying the same scenario over and over. Something you are fearful of, worried about, angry about, tempted with, etc. They can consume your thinking and minutes turn into hours, then hours into days. That loop can play on indefinitely and drive you nuts! Or drive you to sin! Or drive you to depression!

Our Passage Today:

2 Corinthians 10:5

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Holding on for Dear Life

There was a time in my life when I held onto this verse for dear life. We do not have to be tormented by fear, worry, temptation or any other thought. These are from the enemy or from our own sinful flesh. We do not have to let these thoughts run wild in our heads and dominate our lives.

A Note About Temptation

Many times a sinful thought will flash through your mind and it will captivate you. You may be shocked by the thought and shocked that you, as a Christian, are capable of thinking such things. Do not let it captivate you – do not let it take you captive!!! The first thought often is not yours, but a temptation – a snare laid by the enemy to draw you into sin. It is when we entertain the thought that it becomes sin. Obviously, the enemy knows our weaknesses and he will attempt to shock us into captivation.

Therefore, we must learn to stay on guard and prepared. We must immediately combat these tempting thoughts by replacing them. Immediately, strike back with God’s Word! God gave you and me His Word, the Sword of the Spirit. It is the weapon of offense so we need to learn to use it effectively.

My Cares Jar

At a very tough time in my life, I started using a “Cares Jar.” I would write the “care”/worry on a 3×5 index card, on the other side of the card, I would write a scripture that combatted the worry.

Example:

Front:  I am worried about my son moving away.

Back:  Psalm 127:4-6

“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”

The man’s quiver holds his arrows and the purpose of an arrow is to be sent out. It never fulfills its purpose if it stays in the quiver. Our children are to be sent out to glorify God and fulfill His purpose for their lives. So knowing that this was the grand plan for Jonathan, I was able to once more, release him to God and pray that God’s perfect will go forth in his life.

Let’s go to the verse:

“We demolish arguments and every pretension… “

So this is saying that we aggressively wipe out every argument and lie…

“…that sets itself up against the knowledge of God… “

Last week, we talked a lot about the knowledge of God – not His knowledge but our knowledge about Him in 2 Peter 1. When thoughts are set up against the knowledge of God we need to deal with them aggressively. We need to wipe them out, not play around with them or ignore them – demolish them! If we allow the kind of thoughts that undermine our faith and our confidence in who God is (fear, lust, hopelessness, anger, etc.), they will begin to systematically and rapidly destroy us. They will take us captive. This does not mean they can take us away from God but they can keep us from glorifying Him.

“…and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Controlling our thinking is a decided act that we decide to perform. It will not just happen. We have to decide to do it and then just do it!

In Conclusion

We must allow God to change our thinking to that of the mind of Christ. We must replace(change) certain thoughts  – sometimes this takes a lot of decided effort on our part as God shows us what we need to change. A bad habit is hard to change. However, He will give you the strength to change what He reveals according to His Word that needs changing. Use the Sword of the Spirit to fight for your life – to live according to the will of God.

Let’s Go To the Lord in Prayer

Lord, I thank You so much for Your Word. I thank You for loving us and for helping us to grow in our knowledge of You. Please, help us to learn to control our thinking. Also, help us to learn to use the Sword of the Spirit very well. Help us to develop the skill of a master swordsman quickly and help us to continue to grow our skill as You grow our faith. I ask that You be glorified in us and help us to know You better and better every day. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

   Matthew 4:1-11

 

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Do you ever feel this way about your life? How about in your relationship with God?

As a person who is fairly new at building and growing in their relationship with God, and even people who have been building for years and years, we all hit points where we go, “Well, I did it again! I cannot go back to God again and ask Him to help me overcome this same old sin! Surely He won’t even forgive me? After all, He already forgave me for that one and here I am needing to ask for help again for the 2nd time…” or the 10th time…” or the 50th time.”

Do Not Give Up!

It is easy to get discouraged and want to just give up. However, when God saved you, He knew you would be right here where you are needing help again. One verse that comes to mind is Psalm 103:14 (single-click to go to that post) which we studied through not too long ago. He really does remember that we are made from dust and He knows that we are going to require His constant loving care, power and patience.

Good news!! He has plenty of loving care, power and patience for us!

Today’s Passage

We are going to look at a verse from Philippians again today, but right near the beginning of the letter. Hindsight being so good, I probably should have started at the beginning a few weeks ago.

We are going to focus on Verse 6 but read through Verses 3-6. I hope you will take the time to read all of Chapter 1 today.

Philippians 1:3-6 (Focusing on Verse 6) ESV

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Issues

The Philippian church had a few issues going on. They had some false teachers that had come in and were trying to confuse them about the fact that the only way to be brought to God is through trust in Jesus Christ who died for each one’s sins. They also had some discord among the believers themselves that was causing division. There were other things too which you can read on your own. (The issues are addressed in Chapters 2 & 3.)

As Paul prepared to talk about the issues he needed to address, he first wanted to encourage the new believers that God is faithful in sanctifying those that He has saved.

Let’s go to Verse 6:

And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Let’s look at the first part:

“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you…

Paul, himself, has seen the faithfulness and God over and over. He really, really knows that God will complete the work He began when He saved them. This work, known as sanctification, is done by God through the power of the Holy Spirit of God. He does it in our hearts and lives as we get to know Him better and want to be more like Jesus Christ Himself.

“…will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

As you probably know, in The Book of Acts 1: 6-11, Jesus was about to ascend into heaven to be once more at the Father God’s side. He told them that He would send another Comforter (the Holy Spirit) and that He, Himself, would come back one day. Paul is referring to this day – the day Jesus returns. They just assumed He was coming back very soon, instead of hundreds, maybe even thousands of years later.

What I Believe

There is more scripture that supports the opinion that the day of Jesus Christ in each life is the day their physical life ends and they meet Jesus Christ face to face.

That being said, I believe that we can know that the day that God completes the work of sanctification is the day we meet Jesus face to face after this earthly life is over. There are different schools of thought on this so please do not think I am picking an argument, I am not. This is simply what I believe and I am still learning and growing just like you are. If you would like to talk about it, email me at dell.tapestry@gmail.com.

Essentials

One day we will have a talk about the Essentials in Christ. Today, I will just say that the essential thing is that we trust Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for our salvation and that we absolutely know that He is the only way to get to God. He calls Himself the Door. I hope you will read about this in our “Go Deeper Today” as soon as you get a chance.

Let’s Pray:

Thank You so much, Lord, for Your beautiful Word. I ask You that You touch each one of Your children today with it. Help us to trust You and glorify You as You help us to be more like You. Please help us not to take Your grace flippantly but help us to know that it is there for us when we need it. I love You, Lord! Help us all to love You more! Help us to glorify You with our every breath. In the loving, merciful name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

   John 10:7-18