Jan 282015
 

After I wrote yesterday on the struggle between my flesh and obedience to the Spirit, I had one of those “Smiling at God moments” in response to a gift from Him.  It’s this gift when somehow, in spite of all the work that needs to be done, children’s needs bellowing, and inner struggles your facing, God decides to give you a gift.  Not a tangible gift.  But a gift of His presence.  Saying, “I am here.  I know what you are facing.  Let me confirm my realness and love to you right now.”  And in this moment, all you can do is smile.

Everything about my squeezed in 20 min run was off.  My feet were barely able to perform a slow shuffle after being sick.  I was stopped by cars and buses more times than I believed possible.  The dark and fog combo felt claustrophobic.  My quiet time with the Lord was anything but quiet.  But I persisted to pull up my Bible Gateway app on my phone to read the scheduled Chapter Reading for the day.  And this was the highlighted verse:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.   Ephesians 6:12-13

Immediately as I read this verse, I smiled at God.  Why you ask?  Because in this very moment, without a doubt, this scripture was for no one else but me.  It was anything but coincidence.  It was the power of the presence of God.

God saw my wrestling with self discipline, concerned writings about my struggle with being obedient to my selfish flesh nature and Satan’s tactics to take us down.  Only minutes prior to this run.  And He orchestrated, through His living and active Word, this specific scripture to affirm me.  Care for me.  Confirm and validate my previous spiritual struggles.  Give me motivation to persevere in this battle against the enemy’s attacks.

You can’t help but smile when you recognize that the God of the universe see’s you.  So my prayer for you today, my friends, is that you would have a “Smiling at God moment” this week.  One where you say to yourself, “This verse was God speaking directly to me.”  “Wow, thank You for confirming your will to me.”  “I can’t believe You love me and see me.”

I commit to and am excited to pray for you, but there is an active role for you as well.  I challenge you to open and read your Bible,  God’s living and active Word this week.  You don’t have to have a Bible study to do it, for instance the Bible Gateway app on your phone gives you a verse of the day everyday, or the open the Bible and read whatever is in front of you method is one of my personal favorites.  Whatever method you choose doesn’t matter.

The point is this:  the God of the universe desires to affirm, care for, and love on you.  Today.  We are drawn by love for love.

And we can’t help but say, “Oh God, give me more of these gifts of love.”  And He says, with a smile, “Oh my child, there’s a lot more where that came from”.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you  James 4:8a

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Jan 272015
 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Today marks a day of change.  Fittingly, it is also the month which beckons it-January.  I had lost my self discipline somewhere along the way these last months.  All my “must have’s”, God driven passions have been put on the shelf.  But not today.

My inner commentary went something like this:

Writing.  Hmmm.  I know God would have me to be writing.  But I can’t seem to fit it in my day now with my new part time job.  And it would be a lot of work to start another book.  And it would mean getting up real early.  And I’m real tired in the mornings.  And it would mean getting up in the dark nonetheless.

Running.  Hmmm.  I know I previously found such life and intimacy with the Lord on my runs.  But I am watching my eating habits now and so I don’t really NEED to run for the weight loss benefits.  And I could sleep longer if I didn’t.  And my race is completed.  And running in the coldness is not a joy.  And it would mean getting up in the dark nonetheless.

Having a regular first fruits quiet, prayer, and God’s Word time.  Hmmm.  Sure I used to give God my firsts by talking to Him and reading His Word before doing anything else.   But with my new Pastoral position, I find myself reading God’s Word and praying with others sporadically during my day, versus having a regular-early- set time.  And I don’t want to “put God in a box” and say waking up with Him is a NECESSITY to do life with Him.  And my God is with me all the time and I shouldn’t HAVE to talk with Him privately at the beginning of EVERY day.  And I could sleep longer if I didn’t.  And it would mean getting up in the dark nonetheless.

So there is my mental list of excuses.  For NOT being obedient to what I believe God would have me to be doing.  To be honest, I was doing good for awhile.  My self discipline ranked real high.  Getting up early was part of my routine, it was never easy, but I had consistency.

I began to wonder where my consistency turned to complacency.  And here is what I think-I believe the game changed when I started listening to and acting upon my selfish, sinful desires rather than Jesus.  The rationalizations and excuses for NOT won out.  I chose flesh desires over Spirit desires.  I am a weak one, my friends.

And the enemy plays to my weakness.  Some themes from above came down to this, it is hard to obey Christ when:

  • I am afraid of the dark.
  • I have to get up early.
  • I don’t have accountability.
  • My life is undergoing change in routine.
  • The comforts of my body have to be put aside.
  • Regular self discipline is required.
  • Selfishness must be sacrificed.

Knowing my weak areas helps me to recognize when I am choosing complacency over consistency in Christ.  Knowing my weak areas is not something to be shameful of, instead, it is the reality of our human nature.  But the reality of my human nature does not mean I must succomb to it.  Because “when I am weak, then I am strong”.  Jesus in me is stronger “then he who is in the world”.  I have the ability to fight and win these spiritual battles when all the above weaknesses arise.  Always knowing, “there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus”, there is grace waiting when we are disobedient to the Spirit’s leading.

It gets me every time when I realize the enemy’s lie/selfishness tactics have worked.  I mean, it’s not like he is using new strategies.  He began with questions, self doubt, lies, playing to the desires, and a way to rationalize disobedience with Adam and Eve’s fruit eating episode.  And he continues to use what worked then, on us now.

The rub is this:  We will constantly battle an enemy who’s plan is to “kill, steal and destroy” us.  But-we serve a God who loves us SO beyond anything we could comprehend.  And, in turn, has fabulous, life giving plans for us here on earth.  It will not be easy to sacrifice our own selfish desires, while embracing God’s voice above other/our own, discomfort, risk, trust in Him, faith without seeing, a lack of control, hard work and self discipline.  But it is WELL.  WORTH.  IT.

Our loving Father says to us:

You need not fear the dark, my child.  Because I am with you in the dark.  When you feel bad-I am here.  When you battle selfishness and flesh desires-I am here.  When self discipline seems unattainable-I am here.  When excuses and rationalizations seem to reign, I am here.  When needs are beyond, I am here.  When rest is needed, I am here.  When waiting, I am here.  When hope seems far off, I am here.  When plans seem destroyed, I am here.  When weakness turns to strength, I am here.  When then enemy cowers in defeat, I am here.  When my Spirit equips you, I am here.  When my Word speaks real truth, I am here.  When mourning turns to dancing, I am here.  

When darkness turns to light, I am here.  

Come.  Walk with Me.  In the light.  My sweet child beloved. 

  

 

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Jan 212015
 

 

Gotta love those proud parent moments.  The one’s in which the only grateful thought keeping you from playing the “Shame Game” for the rest of the year is, “Atleast no one else was around to witness this gold star conversation.”  Not to toot my own horn, but I had one of these this week.

It was a “normal” week day (for us this means school, work, meals, shopping, quiet times and the girls’ “squirrel dancing” all took place).  I had this genius idea to bring my computer out front to check some “to do’s” off the list, while concurrently watching the girls ride their bikes in the street.  At the same point my brain was giving myself an imaginary pat on the back for living out an upstanding example of the multitasking mother, IT happened.  My gold star parenting moment.

My youngest daughter rode up to me and stated the question that has not left my mind all week, “Mama, do you love your phone or Jesus more?”  Right.  There.  My.  Heart.  Sank.  And then I proceeded to give a quick answer of, “Well, I love Jesus more honey.”  Because that was the right answer.  My daughter rode off as I thought back to all the times today and in days past my cell phone had been my priority.

I decided to close my computer after that conversation.  Frustrated with technology sapping me of relationships.  I thought to myself, “Was my relationship with Jesus my priority each day?  What message am I communicating to my family and others through my actions (not words) of the things I value most?  How can I live a life of being present with the one’s I am face to face with, not the one’s over cyberspace?”

I love that we serve a God of grace.  Who never shames us into submission.  Or forces us into intimacy.  But instead has an always extended hand.  Patiently waiting.  For us to grab it.

For this year of 2015, my word is “reliance”.  Webster’s defines reliance as “the state of needing someone or something for help”.  Like minded words are: anchorpillar, dependence, standby.  

For me, the picture that goes with my word of the year is one of the extended, open, welcoming, warm hand of Jesus.  Our God is THE one to rely on.  For strength. Help.  Comfort.  Direction.  Wisdom.  Worth.  Peace.  And Purpose.

So when I am not relying on the Lord, what am I relying on?  I have found out.  “Myself” is the answer.  It is so fitting that all the Webster’s words opposite of reliance are:  independence, independency, self-dependence, self-reliance, self-sufficiency, self-support.  When I let go of the hand of Jesus, I choose to rely on myself.  

But isn’t it a comforting thought that weakness and reliance are not like minded words.  The above words coupled with Webster’s definition of “reliance” are one’s of strength-“anchor, pillar”.  So we can be sure that relying on/holding onto the hand of Jesus puts us in a category of strength.  The bible confirms this as it says in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

This “reliance relationship” is what I desire.  To be priority.  Over all other crazy “distraction balls” hurled at me daily as if I am in a dodgeball game.  So I am putting a name to my top 5 distractions

  1. Cell phone
  2. Household chores
  3. Computer-Amazon, email
  4. A friend’s request to get together
  5. Work tasks

These distractions consist of everyday, even necessary activities, technologies, projects and people.  And each one is not bad in and of themselves.  But the problem arises when I rely and act on my own impulses, expectations, and control rather than obedience to the Spirit’s voice.  These distractions are my “acheles heals”-areas I know I am prone to prioritize above God’s will for me in the moment.  And in these moments when these distractions reign above God’s promptings, or the distractions have so overwhelmed my brain and I am not aware or asking for God’s decision, I am telling God I love “my cell phone” more than Him.

Sweet Jesus, may I today “keep in step with Your Spirit”.  May I prioritize loving You and others above my distracting cell phone.  May you see me as faithful as I do my best to be obedient to Your voice and commands.  May I recognize Your extended hand beckoning me to come.  Rest.  Find help.  Find peace.  Find true fulfillment and love.  As the distractions of this world fade away in light of Your glorious face.   

What distractions keep you in “self reliance” mode rather than reliance on God mode?

What might God be beckoning you to take His hand to do-trusting and relying on Him for strength?

Jillian

Jillian

© 2012 Standing on Peace

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