This song was going through my head:
“Look what the Lord has done!
Look what the Lord has done!
He healed my body! He touched my mind!
He saved me just in time!
I’m gonna praise His Name!
He’s every day the same!
I’m gonna praise Him!
I’m gonna praise Him!
Look what the Lord has done!”
No matter what’s going on – good, bad, ugly, whatever – God is good! I’m so very thankful for a God that is in control, that can see the past, present, and future, and has promised to always work out things for good (Romans 8:28)!
Life is like a jigsaw puzzle – we can only see the one little piece that applies to us, and maybe the pieces immediately surrounding us – but God can see the big picture, and He alone knows what the end product is supposed to look like. What an incredible Lord and Savior!
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8
Had a great church service a while back. Came away from it knowing that I have to “tend my field.” I can no longer let the tares – the weeds – grow among the good grain. So, I’ve been spending a lot of time pulling up weeds. When I first heard the service, I already barely watched any kind of television; I don’t watch any, now. I’m tired of seeing all the drinking, drugging, swearing, sexual innuendos, fornication, etc. That’s not the kind of thing I should be filling my mind with. Philippians 4:8 tells me to concentrate on things that are true, honest, just, lovely, and of good report; tv doesn’t fit the bill. Nor do movies. I enjoy mindless entertainment to help me wind down just as much as the next person. But I’ve noticed: when the mindless entertainment showcases the kind of behavior the Bible tells me I need to have, instead of the stuff that is against the Bible, I feel much better. I have a better attitude. My walk with God stays strong, and I spend more time with Him. So, tv and movies that don’t follow Biblical principles are out. Which means tv and movies are out, period, because I’ve never seen a movie that doesn’t have some of the Hollywood junk in it (including the ones that are supposed to be Christian).
Music is another weed; if I can’t worship to it, I’m not going to listen to it.
I’m going to spend a little more time tilling my field, too; more time in the Word and in prayer. More time spent helping out the kingdom wherever I can. I can hardly wait until God reveals the changes in me that will occur because of this decision. It won’t be easy to stick with, but nothing worth it is ever really easy.
What about you? Are there any tares you feel God telling you to get rid of?
Everyone struggles with sin. Everyone desires forgiveness. Isn’t it awesome that God gives us forgiveness? I’m thankful.
I am no different than anyone else. I struggle with sin. I struggle with my temper, with my attitude, with so many other things. Every day, I have to apologize to God for my sins. In order to feel like I can overcome them, I have to confess my sins to God, as many as I can. King David went even further than that – he asked God to save him from his “secret sins” – the ones he committed that he didn’t even realize he’d done.
“Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.”
As I was getting ready to write this post and reading over the verses I wanted to use, I realized that David also asked God to keep him from other sins:
“Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent of the great transgression.”
Presumptuous sins… what might those be? Assumption, perhaps. What could be more presumptuous than that? But I think it goes deeper than that. So, I looked it up. According to BlueLetterBible.org, in this verse, the original word is zed, and it’s literal translation is:
So presumptuous sins refers to arrogance, coupled with insolence and impiety. This got me thinking: how have I been arrogant in my walk with God? I tried to be really and truly honest with myself, and I was very sobered by the realization that I am extremely arrogant with God. I have the tendency to assume (there’s that presumption again) that something is or is not from God. I have the habit of deciding that, if I don’t feel forgiven for a sin, it’s because God didn’t forgive me yet, when in actuality, He forgave me the moment I asked; I simply hadn’t forgiven my self (I John 1:9).
I’m pretty arrogant, aren’t I? I take upon myself the power to decide when and if a sin has been or will be forgiven, even though I can ‘t forgive anyone – least of all myself – of any sins. This is a problem.
So how to overcome arrogance like that? By remembering that Someone perfect had to die for my sins, I am reminded that I am far from perfect, far from knowing the future, far from the power that decides life or death. Only God holds that power, and as talked about in a recent church service, I don’t want to take over God’s job! The message was actually about vengeance and bitterness, and how God said that vengeance is His and He will repay (Romans 12:9). When we take over the job of getting back at someone, we are taking over God’s job. We are saying that we are on the same level as God, since we can do His job. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but putting himself on the same level as God is what got Lucifer kicked out of Heaven. Yeah. Don’t want to do that. But as I write this, I’m struck with the idea that I have been getting revenge on myself for my sins, by constantly beating myself up over them instead of making every conscious effort not to commit them again. I’m talking about some specific sins that I struggle with – temper issues, attitude, apathy, some others. And when I realize that I’ve committed a sin again, I get angry with myself. I ask God to forgive me, sure, but then I tell myself that I’m such a horrible person for committing the same sins again that there is no way I can be forgiven and to just give up. Way to play Job’s friends and wife, right?
So, instead of giving up, I should stop giving myself power and authority that I don’t have. I need to remember that God is sovereign, and He will forgive me if I simply ask. That doesn’t mean I should commit sins with the intention of asking forgiveness, however; this kind of behavior sorrows God, maybe even angers Him. Woah. Do NOT want to anger God, or sorrow Him, or anything else.
A recent Sunday School lesson for the class I teach covered what repentance is. I told the kids, “Repentance doesn’t mean you say you’re sorry, do the sin again, say you’re sorry, do the sin again, and so on. It means you say you’re sorry, and lean on God for the strength to resist committing that sin again.” Conviction! Practice what ya teach, teacher :).
All in all, it’s easy to sin. But, thank the Lord, it’s also easy to find forgiveness for those sins, and even easier to ask God for help. That’s not to say that you will never commit those sins again, or that you will have no problem resisting the temptation to sin; but rather, that if you rely on God as your strength, you can and will stand against all sorts of temptation.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
I Chronicles 10:13
Remember the saying, “Practice makes perfect”? Well, it applies here, as well. The more you resist sin, the easier it gets to resist sin. Pray daily for the strength to resist and for the courage to take the straight and narrow path in each situation. Spend time daily in the Word, finding and reading – and memorizing – verses that will help you in your walk with God. That whole, “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee” and “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” thing, ya know (Psalms 119:11, Psalms 119:105). A little illumination is good, but the more, the better, right?
Here’s the really, truly, incredibly awesome part – God has promised that he will break the bonds of sin – and therefore, the punishment for them – from off of us!
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
I have been so tremendously blessed – I have had two earthly fathers and I have one Heavenly Father. My first dad taught me how to walk and talk; he taught me how to eat with a fork (don’t stab the food – scoop it 🙂 ), how to have fun and how to love. My second dad taught me how to be an adult, with all the responsibilities and privileges involved. He gave me my first taste of venison, and talked to me about bow hunting. He gave me advice when I thought I needed it, and sometimes when I didn’t think it was necessary :). Both dads gave me long talks about what was right and wrong with situations, and how to better handle them in the future. Both dads were called to heaven early, and I miss them more than I can come close to describing. I want them – and everyone else – to know how much I love them, and how proud I am to say that I am their daughter.
I also want to tell my heavenly Father how much I love Him. When my first dad died, before I got to meet my second dad, God was my Father. He loved and cared for me when I was sad, and smiled with me when I was happy. He saw how much I and my brother and sister needed a dad, and how my mom was lonely, too, and brought my second dad into our lives. When my second dad got to go to Heaven, God was again there for me, holding me when I cried, drying my tears, and helping me through many of life’s situations. Even when my dads were alive, God was there for me. I’m so thankful for a Father that will never leave me, even through death – He already died, and rose again from the dead!
Happy Father’s Day, to my dads in heaven and to all the other dads out there.
Happy Father’s Day, Abba Father, to You, for being my Father as well.
May God bless all the dads, today and every day!
A long time ago, a wise missionary woman told me this story…
A while back – 40, 50, 60+ years ago – there were two trees in a field. One had been lovingly planted in an area with rich topsoil. It was planted by hand, with great care, by a master gardener, who had been sure to add the proper amount of fertilizer before placing the seed in the ground. The other tree had happened to take root where its seed fell, among some fairly rocky soil.
As the seedlings began to emerge from the ground, the gardener faithfully tended his little sprout. He gave it plenty of the right kinds of food, watered it daily, and protected it from the elements. This seedling grew quickly, and soon was several feet tall. The gardener made certain to stake his young tree, so it would stand strong against the winds that always raked across the field in the coming season.
The other little seedling had no such care; no one showed it love or attention. By itself, it struggled to find the nutrition necessary among the rocky soil, and worked hard to find water to drink. It grew a couple of feet, but its growth was stunted by the lack of necessary nutrients and water. The harsh winds of the prairie tended to cause it to bend, or else break, so its appearance was somewhat bowed.
Years, decades passed. The gardener was faithful to his little tree, which had become a mighty oak. It towered above its forgotten cousin, with its crown branching out farther and higher every year. Its trunk was thick and healthy, with no scars from prairie fires or insect infestation. The gardener had done well, always protecting his beloved tree from all harm.
The other tree had added growth over the years, as well, though not as much; it, too, had branches that fanned out over the prairie, though the leaves weren’t quite as thick or green. The trunk showed scars from some prairie fires this tree had narrowly escaped being fuel for, as well as places where insects had eaten away supporting sections of trunk that the tree had covered over with scar tissue to strengthen. It was slightly misshapen, as well, bowed by years of harsh winds.
Both trees were happy with where they were; content with their lot.
The day came, however, when the first tree’s gardener no longer came to tend it. The first tree had to search for food in soil that had become more and more barren over the years, as drought overtook the land. Water was hard for it to find. The tree struggled to make it through a spring and summer, but somehow managed to survive. Autumn came, and with it the roaring winds. During the first windstorm, a gust of wind came over the prairie and – CRACK! – the tree came crashing down, its root system dangling from its sideways trunk. The roots… were short, and had never dug down deep into the earth. They had run right along under the surface, the better to absorb the nutrients from the fertilizer the gardener gave it, and the water with which the gardener watered it. This tree had never had to fend for itself; it had never had to search for what it needed, to grow strong roots in order to survive.
The other tree, the one that had never had the benefit of someone to protect it from harm, perceived no difference in the season. This tree noticed that there was a little less water than usual; it dugs its roots down deeper. When the devastating windstorm swept over the prairie, the tree clung to the ground with its vast, deep root system, and held firm.
Spring came again. Only one tree was visible standing on the prairie. It wasn’t quite as tall as it might have been, nor as widely branching; it didn’t look as nice as it might have, with scars all over its twisted trunk, but it was still standing.
The moral: Don’t think that, because you have to go through storms, trials, and tribulations, God doesn’t care about you. These things actually show just how much God cares for you – He wants you to grow your “roots” deep into the well of living water! It might be cliche but – you can’t have a testimony without a test! If you were protected from the majority of life’s little hurts, do you think you would be better equipped to stand against a big hurt, like a family member dying? Or losing everything you own in a natural disaster? Or maybe having a relationship with someone go very sour? Or, maybe, do you think that you would have only shallow roots to cling to, a relationship with God that has little substance? If that were so, and a big storm came along – might you fall?
Tests teach us to grow our roots deep into God, so that we will have a firm foundation to cling to when the big storms come along. The most important thing to remember is that God will never forsake us! Nothing, nothing, NOTHING can happen to us that we are not able to bear, as long as we lean on God!
“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught , abounding therein with thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-9
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” II Cor. 12:9