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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dead Weight

“Nearly half of the people responding to an online survey about obesity said they would give up a year of their life rather than be fat, according to a study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale. The 4,000 respondents in varying numbers between 15% and 30% also said they would rather walk away from their marriage, give up the possibility of having children, be depressed, or become alcoholic rather than be obese. Five percent and four percent, respectively, said they would rather lose a limb or be blind than be overweight.”—Yale University Office of Public Affairs article found here: http://opa.yale.edu/news/article.aspx?id=1787

Is it just me, or is that is crazy?!

All of us know what the world thinks of being overweight. My problem has always been drowning out the voices of the world in favor of hearing and heeding God’s voice on this issue in my life. I know it is not a sin to be overweight. However, in my case, being overweight is symptomatic of sins in my life. In the course of my life, I have indulged in the pleasure of food without regard to the effects of this indulgence on my body. I have been an idolater by seeking comfort or fulfillment apart from God. I have been a coveter and regularly thought “if only I was as thin or as pretty or as disciplined as she is!” I have been lazy and have avoided exercise. I have been selfish in my indulgence and laziness—not caring that my body belongs to my God for worship and to my husband to enjoy, not caring that being overweight effects my energy and physical strength to serve God and others. I have been a bad steward of my health, which is a gift God has given me. I have been greedy with eating poorly, with not making time to exercise, and with buying things to make me feel better about being overweight. I have been deceptive in trying to hide my humiliating sin.

Rather than listening to God’s truth, I have listened to Satan lies—“You’re not an athlete, you can’t do that,” “You can’t change, that’s just the way you are,” “You are disgusting and worthless,” “Your husband will never really love you until you lose weight,” “You’re not that overweight,” “There are worse sins” I know these are lies because Philippians 4:13 tells me “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” As the Lord told said to Abraham in regard to blessing him with a child in old age, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” I know that God does not tell me that I am disgusting or worthless. Rather than turning away from me in disgust, while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me! Romans 5:8 says “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I know that my husband loves me because Christ first loved Him. I John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.” I know that I underestimate my sinfulness and that my heart is deceitful and my sin is deceitful. Jeremiah 17:9 says,“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” and Hebrews 3:13 says “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today', that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” I know that sin is sin—there are no gradations. As a sinner, I have fallen short of the glory of God according to Romans 3:23. The wages of sin is death. The wages of my sin is death, and Jesus paid that costly price for me. I am grateful to serve a God who redeems, who does not leave me on my own, who changes me, who loves me, and who speaks truth to me in His Word.

God has been growing me in conviction and repentance in this area of my life for the past couple years. My walk through this repentance has been slow, but God has been patiently and gradually changing my heart to bring it more inline with His. I know that in order to get my body to a healthy state, I will need to take restorative measures in the areas of diet and exercise. My cousin, who is gifted in the area of fitness and shepherding, has graciously agreed to help me with a training plan. I want to be pure in my motives for this.

Here are some ungodly motives I must take to the Lord and fight by the Spirit to resist:

1) Buying the lie of the world that being thin is a virtue or would make me more valuable. (This contrasts with Proverbs 31:31 “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised,” and 1 Peter 3:3-6 “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”)

2) Wanting the admiration of the world for my own glory and pride (In contrast to: Proverbs 25:27 “It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one's own glory,” Isaiah 42: 8 “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols,” Romans 11:36 “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”)

3) Idolatry—because losing weight or being attractive has somehow become an end in itself and not a means to glorify God (in contrast to Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.)

4) Works-based theology—thinking I can merit God’s favor by improving in this area of life or thinking that God can love me more or less depending on my success or failure in this area. Romans 3:21-26 “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 5: 15 “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.” Romans 8:1-4 "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 11:6 “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” Galatians 3: 3:1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham 'believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness'? 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.”

5) Worldly Sorrow—because I am sad for worldly reasons (i.e. because I do not feel pretty or admired, because I want to fit in, etc.), not for godly reasons like the fact that I am not loving God and not loving people in this area of my life. 2 Cor 7: “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”

Here are some motives that I desire to have:

1) Loving God and loving people—Luke 10:27 “And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’” Proverbs 23:20-21 “Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat,21 for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.” Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."

2) Living in freedom instead of bondage to sin—Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:13 “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. 13 ‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food’—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” Romans 6: 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

3) Not allowing weight issues to distract me from savoring God and blessing people--Hebrews 12:1 ”Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

4) Helping and loving my husband by making myself attractive for him and by keeping myself strong and healthy to be his helpmate in life. Genesis 2:18 "Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’” Proverbs 31:10-13 “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. 13 She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.” Proverbs 31:17 “She dresses herself with strengthand makes her arms strong.” Song of Solomon 4:9-12 “You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. 10 How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine,and the fragrance of your oils than any spice! 11 Your lips drip nectar, my bride; honey and milk are under your tongue; the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon. 12 A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a spring locked, a fountain sealed.” Song of Solomon 7:10 “I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me.” Proverbs 5:18-19 “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, 19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” 1 Cor 7:4 "For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does."

5) Imaging God and the Gospel and reflecting order and beauty because God is a God of order and beauty. Revelations 21:1 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Psalm 96:6 “Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.” 1 Corinthians 6:19 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

6) Exercising faith in God and His ability to change and redeem me. Matthew 21:22 “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” Ephesians 6:16 “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” James 1: 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

More resources on this topic:

My friend, Crystal, gave a very helpful talk on the issue of gluttony and body image and it can be downloaded here: http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/christian-womanhood-/gluttony

Books that I have found to be helpful on this topic:

The Bible
"Thin Within" by Judy and Arthur Halliday
"Love to Eat, Hate to Eat: Breaking the Bondage of Destructive Eating Habits" by Elyse Fitzpatrick.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for not leaving me as I am. Thank you that I am yours and that you have already forgiven and paid for all of my sin. Thank you that I cannot make you love me more or less because you already love me infinitely and unconditionally. Thank you that you are all powerful and nothing is too hard for you. I confess I have so many bad and worldly motives in my heart when it comes to weight loss. Please forgive me and change my heart. Replace the worldly motives with biblical ones. Fill my heart with love so that I would always be motivated by love for you and others in this. I confess that this is an area of my life in which I struggle with doubt and despair. Please fill me with faith and hope instead. Thank you so much for my cousin who loves you and who is lovingly exercising the gifts you have given in order to help me. I pray that you would bless him for it! Please help me be faithful to you in all things. Fill me with your Spirit. Holy Spirit, please enable me. You are my only hope. I am so dependent on you!! Holy Lord, may you get all the glory in my life and in this journey you have placed me on. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Walking in the Light

We live in a world where people airbrush, spin, whitewash, sanitize, market, strategize, cover up, etc. Why? We live in a world where image and accolades are everything. We want recognition. We want to be adored…..

…I want recognition. I want to be adored. I want people to think well of me. I want glory. I want praise.

Praise and glory do not rightfully belong to me. All praise and glory belong to my God. He alone is worthy. He alone is sincere and righteous and pure in His own right. I am clean, but not because I have done anything righteous or pure. I am only clean because He cleansed me. He took me while I was stained and marred by sin. He took me knowing my sin (my nature, my inclinations, my actions—past, present, and future) and He paid the price for all of it. He cleansed me from the filth of it, it so that I can be pure in His sight and so that I can have peace and relationship with the One who is Pure, Holy, Righteous, and True. He is even doing the work in me to transform me into the image of Jesus the Perfect One so that I not only get “counted righteous” through Jesus’ work, but I get to experience redemption, restoration, and freedom from the sin that burdens me through the process of sanctification (shedding of sin and putting on of Christ-likeness). This is a process that God does in me, that happens gradually over a Christian’s lifetime, and that is incomplete in this lifetime. We get to experience complete freedom from sinfulness on the day that we are finally with Him in glory! What wonderful news!!!

Why then do I still want to look good in the eyes of others? Why then do I mourn damage to my reputation? Why then do I want to be liked and admired—not just so that others would see Christ in me, but so that they would see ME? This is so wrong!

Proverbs 25:27 “It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one's own glory.”

Isaiah 42: 8 “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.”

Romans 11:36 “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”


Furthermore, when God is glorified, I have joy, peace, and hope!

Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

1 Peter 1: 3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Since I want to seek His glory and not my own, it is important that I walk in the light (i.e. that I am real, sincere, and honest with God, myself, and with others rather than trying to look like someone I am not). Here are just some reasons I ought to walk in the light:

1) God commands it (see all the Scriptures below).

2) So that others might see God’s workmanship and goodness in my life despite me, and that this would cause them to give glory where it is rightfully due--to God and not to me….

Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

2 Cor 4:7 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”


3) So that others might believe in God because of the testimony of what He has done in my life, and so that others would be encouraged that there is hope in Him for them too...

1 Timothy 1:15-17 “15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

2 Cor 1: 3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

4) So that I would not be a stumbling block in causing despair in a brother or sister in Christ who sees a false fa├žade of self-righteousness in me while they struggle secretly with their own sin….

Romans 14: 13 ” … but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”

John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

Matthew 18:1-5 "At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?' 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, 'Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.5 Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.' 7 'Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!’”

5) To experience forgiveness and freedom in Christ….

1 John 1: 5-10 “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

6) To be aware of and to acknowledge my utter dependence on Him…

2 Cor 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

7) To remain humble, submissive, and ready to receive God’s grace…

James 4:1-9 “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”

8) So that others in the body can help me (and I in turn can help them as they are honest with me about where they need help)…

James 5:13-18 “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 7 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.”

1 Peter 4:10 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.”

1 Cor 12:4-7 “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”


9) To expose myself (motives and actions) in such a way as to enable godly brothers and sisters to speak into my life with truth as they can sometimes see what my deceitful heart refuses to see…

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”

10) So that I do not get puffed up or fall into thinking that I have reason to boast in anything but the Lord…

Jeremiah 9:23-24 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

11) So that I would not find my worth in the accolades of the world, but rather in the fact that I am a daughter of the Most High...

Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Matthew 10: 29-31 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Romans 8:14-17 “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

12) So that I would worship no other God but the One True God (not myself, not my accomplishments, nor any other thing)...

Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”

Dear Heavenly Father,

Please forgive me for all the ways I try to steal your glory by desiring affirmation from the world rather than from you! Forgive me for wanting to hide my sin like Adam and Eve rather than to come into the light and receive your forgiveness and restoration and to show others how gracious you are to someone like me. Help me to walk in the light. May you ever get the glory in my life as you enable me to walk in the light. May my life be an encouragement to others because of what you have done for me and what you can do for them. I love you Lord. I thank you that in your glory I get joy, peace, and hope. I thank you that the more you are glorified, the more we get to experience joy, peace, and hope. Be glorified in our lives. Help us to be real with one another—Christians and non-Christians alike. May we always be led by your Spirit in what we share with others. May your Spirit produce sincerity in us. May your Spirit produce real and sincere fruit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control and the like. Help us to stop trying to fake it. In Jesus’ Glorious Name, Amen.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

This one's for you, Em!


I made one of the meal suggestions--chicken pot pie! I used chicken breast and frozen veggies from our freezer and spices I already had. I had made homemade chicken stock from the rotisserie chicken I used the other day for our "easy tortilla soup". The only ingredient I bought was the puff pastry crust. I found the ramikins on super sale. I also made the pumpkin bread from the Trader Joe's mix that was in our pantry. Kristian liked the pot pie and the pumpkin bread. Yay!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Inspired by the Sermon

This year, the Lord has been teaching me much about what it means to be the Body of Christ. This is one of the passages through which He has been doing this in my heart:

Ephesians 1:15-23 “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

God further used this Sunday’s sermon to develop what He is teaching me: http://www.gracepugetsound.com/sermons/Golike11-16-08.mp3

As our pastor, Scott Golike, pointed out, God’s people are God’s glorious inheritance! You and I are God’s glorious inheritance.

Here is a segment from the sermon: “Everything God has done in creating and bringing to pass in this history that you and I are part of has been for the purpose of redeeming a people for Himself. He loves and values it so much that it is His glorious inheritance the riches of which just in His mind overflow! God wants you to feel the way He feels about His inheritance. That is why Paul is praying over and over and over again that our eyes would be opened to see this and to know this and to get this!... I want us to have as a unifying understanding in principle…we’re not calling you just to come to the service faithfully. We’re not calling you just to help us make the program good and successful and just asking you to see if we can get more people to come. That is such a pathetic vision! We’re asking you to so value the Body of Christ that it shows up in your life, it shows up in your priorities, it shows up in your decisions, in what you do with your time and your money…do you love the Bride of Jesus, so that it is not words or talk…do you love His Bride?...[The church] is rich and glorious to God my Father and Jesus my King, therefore it will be rich and glorious to me.”

Pastor Scott then took us to Ephesians 5 to give us the image of the Church as the precious bride of Christ!

Ephesians 5:25-33 “25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.; 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

He also directed us to Paul’s words to the Ephesian elders:

Acts 20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

Jesus paid for the Church with His precious blood. His Church is that important to Him!

This morning I was reading in 1 Corinthians 12: 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

All Christians are part of the Body of Christ, regardless of what local expression of the Body we call our church home. We are all united to Christ and to each other. We cannot cut ourselves off from one another without cutting ourselves off from Christ Himself. I wonder if we really, truly considered and believed what the Bible says of the Body of Christ whether that would change the we treat our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ—whether or not we go to the same church, agree with their theology, or have a natural affinity for them. How would it change the way that we are toward people who are part of the local body we call our church home? How would it change the way that we love sacrificially and without an agenda, the way that we pursue each other, the way that we don’t give up on each other even when things become inconvenient for us, the way that we forgive one another, the way that we serve one another, the way that we get to know one another, and the way that we allow others to get to know us with humility and transparency so that the glory of God may shine through our vessels of clay?

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for teaching me more and more what it means to be the Body of Christ. Thank you that I get to be a part of it. Help me to treasure it as you do and may that affect everything I do. May I treat all of my brothers and sisters in Christ as the very ones purchased by Jesus’ blood and who are counted His glorious inheritance! Help me to love more with all sincerity and truth. Help me to earnestly forgive and be gracious and merciful. Help me to seek out ways to serve and love sacrificially by your Spirit. Help me to speak truthfully with kindness in a way that imparts grace to the hearer and in a way that is obedient to you. I thank you for making me part of your glorious inheritance—not because I am good, but because you are good and I am yours by your work. Help me to be real, humble, and honest so that the world would see how great you are and how marvelous are the deeds you have done for me (even though I was poor, wretched, naked, and blind apart from you) so that they too may have hope in you! Give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of you, that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened, that we may know what is the hope to which you have called us—the riches of your glorious inheritance in your people and the immeasurable greatness of your power toward us who believe! Thank you. We love you. In Jesus Name, Amen

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blessed By Friends

Today was such a wonderful day. My friends Emilie, Nora, and Jentry came over with their sweet kids. We had a delicious "easy tortilla soup" from our friend Jessie's blog http://jessieheaviland.blogspot.com/. It was a lot of fun to have a girls' lunch with the moms and to hang out with the kids. I got to hold all the cute babies (6 mo twin girls Brynn and Chloe and newborn boy Emerson). I got to play with Charlie who is so fun and has so much personality. Then, Emilie and Jentry went through my pantry and freezer and helped me plan 12 menu items from ingredients we already have! What a service that was to me! I am amazed by their resourcefulness and culinary talents. This will save us a lot on groceries for probably two weeks or more! Thank you ladies!

Here's a rough version of the Tortilla Soup recipe:

Chicken Taco Soup

1 box of chicken broth (or homemade)
Cumin to taste (I used a lot)
Salt and pepper
Chicken shredded (I used rotisserie)
1 jar green salsa mild or medium
1 green onion chopped finely
Couple cans of beans--any kind

Bring to boil.  Add freshly chopped cilantro at the end if you'd like.  Serve with (or without) sour cream and tortilla chips. (I ate mine without).  I would think you could also add rice if you wanted.  Yum!

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the blessing of friends in my life. Thank you for the love you show me through them. Thank you for the help you give me through friends--especially in areas where I am naturally weak. Thank you for their willing hearts to serve and to love. Thank you for their fellowship. Thank you for the laughter and good conversations. Thank you for the sweet little ones who bring us such joy. I pray for your blessings on these friends in all the areas of their lives. I pray for your blessings on these little ones--may they grow to know and love you! Help me to be a good friend and please show me ways to bless them too. I pray all of this in Jesus Mighty Name, Amen.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Joy of the Lord

In the past few days, God has been teaching me this simple truth--He wants me to enjoy Him. I wonder if this might be the biggest thing He wants from me? I wonder if joy in the beloved is the pinnacle of love? Out of enjoying Him flows faith/trust, hope, obedience, thanksgiving, love for others, etc. The more I know about God (primarily through His Word), the more I realize how enjoyable He is and how He does satisfy me like no one and nothing else (including my sin)! I don't mean this in a trite way, that is I don't mean this in a way that does not acknowledge the real pain of this life. Today I listened to the testimony of a beautiful woman of God. I have not known her long and I do not know her well, but upon meeting her, I immediately noted that she has a quiet, sincere, deep-rooted love and joy that simply radiates from her. Today I was very surprised and saddened to hear that she lost her husband to a horrible and sudden bout of cancer some years ago. She is a widow and single mom. If anyone ought to be bitter or angry or incapacitated by grief, I would think it would be a woman who lost the love of her life to a painful and devastating disease and was consequently left to raise her children alone. Yet, this woman is anything but bitter, angry or incapacitated. Hearing her testimony just reminded me of how great God is. His greatness is greater than the devastation of the deepest heartache this world can bring. This is the only reason this woman could have a real (i.e. not fake, not conjured, not a facade) kind of joy, love, and peace that truly eminates from her. This woman knows what it is to be satisfied by God with a joy that supercedes circumstances, and I think this is because she has tasted that God is truly good:

Philippians4:4-7 "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

God wants joy for us! Our deepest joy is found in Him. Now that IS a light burden!

Matthew 11:28-29 "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls"

I love this account from the book of Nehemiah. See how good God is, that He is glorified in the rejoicing of His people!:

Nehemiah 8:1-12 "And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the LORD had commanded Israel. 2So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. 4And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand, and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand. 5And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. 6And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, "Amen, Amen," lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. 7 Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. 8They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.
9And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. 10Then he said to them, "Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." 11So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved." 12And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them."


Dear Heavenly Father, Please help us to know you more, so that we can enjoy you more! Give us an ever-increasing hunger for your Word because it is how we can know you and your glorious character! Open our eyes to see you! Thank you for revealing yourself to be utterly enjoyable in a way that supercedes circumstances. Thank you that you want joy for us! What a Loving, Kind and Gracious God you are! In Jesus Name, Amen

Monday, November 10, 2008

Power

Other than my husband, Kristian, John Piper is probably the theologian/pastor who has had the biggest influence in my faith and theology in the last couple of years. I am pretty sure that John Piper has been the most influencial theologian/pastor in my husband’s life in the last couple of years as well. Here’s a great Piper quote from a sermon I listened to today:

“My authority is nothing, except in so far as it accords with The Book (the Bible), and that’s why you must measure it that way. I want us to be a church-- in the pulpit, in our songs, in our prayers, in our small groups, in our meetings, in our conferences-- that are not only in a vague way based upon the Bible—which everybody says they are—but explicitly visually, verbally, manifestly saturated with the Bible because there is the authority, the power, the life. Human words accomplish nothing if they are not clearly echoing God’s Truth. He has the power, we don’t.”

Amen!

My words in this blog are nothing apart from God's Word. God’s Word is everything. It has the power to change lives by revealing the glory of God to the hearts of men!

2 Corinthians 4:1-6 "Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, '“Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

Friday, November 7, 2008

Excellent Sermon on a Wife's Submission

If any of you, like me, are trying to figure out what it means for wives to submit to their husband, I highly recommend this excellent sermon by Wayne Grudem on 1 Peter 3:1-6:

http://www.scottsdalebible.com/sermons/the-actions-of-gods-people/gods-wisdom-for-wives.cfm

(I had trouble with the video, so I downloaded it from iTunes:
http://www.scottsdalebible.com/Main_Downloads_Sermons.cfm)

I listened to it twice. I loved it because: 1) it was practical; 2) it addressed common questions and misunderstandings about submission; 3) it tied the concept of submission to the Trinity and the glory of God!

Here is an outline of the sermon (my notes in parenthesis):

1. What if you are not a wife? (1 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. I think anyone would find this sermon to be helpful—husbands, wives, or unmarried folks--because it ultimately points to the glory of God)

2. Does this ancient text still apply today? (Yes! “There are some physical actions with symbolic meaning that change their application from culture to culture” i.e. kissing one another with a brotherly kiss, washing people’s feet, etc. Also, there are some things that were written in the Old Testament that pertained to the Jews and the Bible makes that clear. However, Biblical principles certainly pertain to us today! Some of the methods of application of these principles vary by culture because the significance of the physical actions vary by culture--ie meeting each other with a brotherly kiss means something different in our culture than it did back then, but the principle is hospitality and kindness. Today a brotherly kiss might look more like a hug or a warm handshake. The concept of submission is a principle, not an application).

I. What submission does NOT mean:

A. Your husband is smarter or wiser.
B. Your opinions don’t matter.
C. You should follow your husband into sin. (i.e. Esther who disobeyed her husband and king)
D. You are less valuable than your husband.
E. It’s OK for husbands to be selfish or cruel.

II. What submission DOES mean:

A. An inward gentleness of spirit that supports the leadership of your husband.
B. An imitation of both Sarah and Jesus.
C. An attitude that is precious in God’s sight.

III. The blessings that God promises

A. Salvation of some unbelieving husbands.
B. The joy of having inward beauty and peace.
C. The freedom from focusing on external beauty.
D. Knowing the favor of God on your life.

Other insights from this sermon:

Affirming someone else’s leadership is a natural part of life—we see this in the workplace all the time.

The barrier to submission is fear…not fearing comes from trusting in God, from a quiet confidence in God.

“Submission is an attitude that is precious in God’s sight. Do you hear the amazing promise of this verse? It says when you have a gentle and quiet spirit in your marriage—not contentions, not striving or shrill or harsh, not always fighting against your husband’s leadership, when you have a peace within that comes from walking with God and trusting in Him to protect you, God looks at your heart and takes great delight." GOD actually delights in our submission!!!

“Jesus is behind all submission to authority everywhere in the Bible because Jesus is not only fully man, He is also the Eternal Son of God who is equal to the Father in deity but eternally subject to God the Father in relationship.” 1 Cor 11:3 tells us that the head of Christ is God the Father.

“Submission and authority have existed eternally in the very being of God!...Wives, that means that when you submit to your husband’s authority, you are acting in imitation of God the Son and the glory of God the Son…it’s not demeaning, it’s not wrong… the glory of God the Son is that He submits eternally to His Father to whom He is equal in deity and value and every other way, except they are different in role.”

"You know what else this means? Wives if this is hard for you, you can talk to Jesus about it. Hebrews 4:15-16 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

Here are the sermon notes: http://www.scottsdalebible.com/docs/ppt/Inserts101908.pdf

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Exposed


I’m a big picture person. I’m an ideas person. That is why this verse terrifies me:

James 1:22-25 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

It is much easier for me to study what the Word of God says than it is to do what the Word of God says. In my last post, I laid out what God taught me about being my husband’s helpmate and about God’s call for me to submit to my husband. Early on in our marriage, I asked my husband what are the ways I could best serve him (he has asked the same of me). He told me that I could be helpful to him by: 1) tending to my health and appearance; 2) keeping our home orderly; and 3) being a good steward with spending money.

I should not have been too surprised. After all, I read Shaunti Feldhahn’s book, “For Women Only”. Apparently these areas are important to many men.

These are my weakest areas.

I used to wonder, “Lord, why would you choose me to be the wife of a man who values these things so highly, when these are my weakest areas?” I know the answer to that question now. God does not want to leave me as I am. He wants to root out sin in me, grow the fruit of the Spirit in me, and to conform me to the image of Jesus.

My least strong fruit of the Spirit is self-control. One of my biggest propensities toward sin has to do with self-indulgence, gluttony, laziness at home, lack of discipline, lack of endurance, and poor stewardship of time at home, and poor stewardship of money. These qualities in me pertain to what the Bible refers to as my “flesh”.

In some upcoming posts, I am going to address each of these three areas in which I am struggling to serve and submit to my husband, looking at these issues from Scripture.

How about you? Have you ever asked your husband about ways that you can serve him and submit to him better? Are there areas in which you are struggling?

Dear Heavenly Father, Please forgive me for my self-indulgence, gluttony, laziness, lack of discipline, lack of endurance, poor stewardship of time and money, and most of all my lack of love for you and others. I pray that I would not take my sin too lightly and that I would not cheapen the grace you have shown me. I pray that I would remember the price you paid for my sin. I often feel overwhelmed by my sin and weaknesses. I thank you that you have a solution to that. I thank you that there is no condemnation in You. Thank you for not leaving me as I am! Thank you for putting challenging circumstances before me to cut away sin from my life. Thank you for your divine purpose in marriage, which is multifold. Thank you that one of those purposes is to make us both more like your Son. Thank you for my husband and for giving him love in his heart for me. I pray for myself and for all the women who read this blog. Please keep us from believing lies. May our attitudes and actions conform to your Word. Help us to live by your Spirit and not according to our flesh. Help us to have sincere love and a servant heart for others, especially for our husbands. In Jesus Name, Amen

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Struggling to Submit


I was 20 years old and studying abroad in Oxford, England. My classmates and I were enjoying a rare sunny spring day floating on a river boat. As we drifted down the river, tranquil scenes passed by us--wildflowers poking through a rolling carpet of green grass and families of ducks quacking under shady trees. I hardly noticed any of it. I was furious. My dear friend Jesse and I were discussing the distinction between men and women from Scripture. He was fully convinced that Scripture directed wives to actually submit to their husbands! I thought he was some 1950’s antiquated breed of sexist boy, or that he was simply enjoying the enraged reaction he was getting from me. I was about ready to toss my glass of white wine at him. Sure, I could read with my own eyes what Scripture said, but surely that is not what it meant! There had to be some explanatory cultural context to those texts that was no longer relevant today.

While it is true that Jesse was probably enjoying antagonizing me a little too much, he was absolutely right that Scripture’s teaching is clear that men and women, husbands and wives have different roles and callings in life. Over the next several years, the Holy Spirit patiently opened my eyes to this truth as I studied this issue from Scripture. By the time I started dating my now-husband, Kristian, I was convicted from Scripture that my calling as a wife was to help my husband and to submit to him. Here are some Scriptures that led me to this conclusion:
1 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is GoItalicd-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness

Genesis 2:18-25 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Proverbs 12:4 An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.

Proverbs 18: 22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.

Proverbs 19: 13 A foolish son is ruin to his father, and a wife's quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.

Proverbs 19:14 House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.

Proverbs 25: 24 It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.

Proverbs 27:15-16 A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; 16 to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in one's right hand.

Proverbs 31:10-31
10 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,and he will have no lack of gain.12 She does him good, and not harm,all the days of her life.13 She seeks wool and flax,and works with willing hands.14 She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.15 She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.16 She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.17 She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.Her lamp does not go out at night.19 She puts her hands to the distaff,and her hands hold the spindle.20 She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,for all her household are clothed in scarlet.22 She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.23 Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.24 She makes linen garments and sells them;she delivers sashes to the merchant.25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,and she laughs at the time to come.26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:29 “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,and let her works praise her in the gates.

Song of Solomon 5:18-19 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth,19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.
1 Cor 7:4-5 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Ephesians 5: 22-24 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Colossians 3: 18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

1 Peter 3:1-6 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening

Titus 2:3-5 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Unfortunately, my understanding of what this all meant in light of the gospel was still sorely underdeveloped. I saw this calling as a woman and a wife as somehow getting the “short end of the stick,” and it led to bitterness and resentment in me for no other reason than that I have a rotten heart that is not naturally inclined toward humility and service. In recent years, God has been working on my heart with regard to what it means to be a godly woman and wife.

Here are some things I have learned from Scripture on this issue:

1) Men and women are both made in the image and likeness of God. Genesis 1:26-27: Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

2) Christ is my best example of having a humble, loving, and servant heart, and unlike me, He is perfect and God! Philippians 2:1-11 “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

3) Sincerely loving my husband means sacrificing for him. John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

4) It is not enough for me to go through the motions of submitting to my husband, God wants me to do this out of love. 1 Cor 13:1-3 “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

5) I can actually revile the Word of God in this area of my life. Titus 2:3-5 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

6) The relationship of marriage is meant to reflect the gospel itself and the relationship between Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:31-32 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

One book that has been extremely valuable to me in this journey is “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Roles, Relationship, and Relevance” by Dr. Bruce Ware. I loved the way that Dr. Ware laid out from Scripture the varying roles within the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and how each member of the Godhead is equally God but different in roles. Here is an excerpt from page 21 of his book:

An authority-submission structure marks the very nature of the eternal Being of the one who is three. In this authority-submission structure, the three Persons understand the rightful place each has. The Father possesses the place of supreme authority, and the Son is the eternal Son of the eternal Father. As such, the Son submits to the Father just as the eternal Father, as eternal Father of the eternal Son, exercises authority over the Son. And the Spirit submits to both the Father and the Son. This hierarchical structure of authority exists in the eternal Godhead even though it is also eternally true that each Person is fully equal to each other in their commonly possessed essence. The implications are both manifold and wondrous as we ponder this authority-submission structure which not only is accepted but is honored, cherished, and upheld within the Godhead. (P. 21)

Dr. Ware related this Trinitarian model to husband and wife who are equals with varying roles. In fact, the word (ezer) used to describe a wife’s role as a “helper” to her husband in Genesis 2 is the same word that is used elsewhere to describe our God who helps us! An example is in this passage:

Psalm 121: 1-2: I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

Okay, well that is enough for now. My next post will get into some of the specific struggles I am facing today in honoring God in this area of life.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What to Wear to the Fight


Ephesians 6:10-20 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak

Observations:

1) Be strong IN THE LORD AND IN THE STRENGTH OF HIS MIGHT. This is reassuring because, as I described in the post below, I lack the strength to fight.

2) Put on the WHOLE armor of God, not just part of it.

3) The fight involves what is unseen--fighting against what is unseen for results that will not fully be revealed until later (our future hope of glory!). This reminds me of what Jesus said to Pilate as He faced torture and persecution--what looked like defeat by what could be "seen". John 13:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

4) In being charged to put on the belt of truth, I am reminded that what I know to be true comes from the Word, not from my instincts, emotions, circumstances, fleshly desires, culture, opinions of others, etc.

5) My breastplate of righteousness is the blood of Jesus Christ! I have no righteousness apart from Him. At the same time, there is no condemnation for me because Jesus fulfilled the requirements of righteousness on my behalf (lived a sinless life, was the worthy sacrifice to pay the penalty of my unrighteousness so that I could be united with a righteous God). Romans 8:1-3 "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. " Putting on the breastplate of Jesus' righteousness is a powerful tool in the battle against the enemy who is known as "the accuser." Our enemy wants us to believe that we are failures and worthless because those thoughts take our eyes off of the beauty of a God who loves us despite our sin and who solved the problem of our sin, cleansing us from unrighteousness. I love this passage from Zechariah 3. Keep in mind that many scholars believe "the angel of the Lord" is Jesus Himself: Zecharian 3:1-10 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by. 6 And the angel of the Lord solemnly assured Joshua, 7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. 8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. 9 For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day. 10 In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.” This passage tells me, yes, my garments were filthy, but Jesus gave me something new to wear--a robe of righteousness--His righteousness. Satan's accusations are wrong! Because of Jesus, I have a new inheritance, a redeemed life with God--a shadow of which I know now to be realized in its entirety in the future!

6) The gospel of peace is my inspiration to fight and my means by which to fight.

7) I love that the shield of faith is introduced by the clause "in all circumstances". The difficulty of faith is in the circumstances for me! Some circumstances make it easier to have faith, but other circumstances really test faith. I think of how Abraham trusted in God's goodness love, and righteousness even as God told Him to sacrifice his son. Those circumstances did not make sense, yet the God in whom Abraham believed during confusing circumstances proved Himself faithful just as Abraham trusted He would. In the confusing circumstances of my life, sometimes my faith is more like the father who came to Jesus for healing of his demon posessed son: Mark 9:21-24 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” When I exercise the little faith I have by coming to the Lord, He is faithful to answer my prayers to grow my faith in Him. I should never forget that my faith itself is a gift from Him! Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast."

8) I love that one of the weapons is the helmet of salvation--I belong to Jesus and that Jesus has already saved me from my enemies--satan, sin, and death! This victory was won on the cross and I will taste it in its entirety when I get to be with Him in glory!

9) The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God--the Bible! This is all the more reason I need to be in the Word--reading it, learning about it, knowing it, memorizing it, measuring all things against it, and looking for my answers in it. Hebrews 4:12 "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." I ought to open the Word of God regularly, especially when I am feeling weak.

10) Prayer is another important tool with which I can fight. I can go to my Loving Father and ask for help! Prayer expresses my reliance on God and my faith that the strength I need comes from Him. Prayer expresses my confidence in the All-Powerful, All-Wise, All-Loving God who delights to help me fight. Prayer invites the Holy Spirit to do His work in my heart. Jesus shows me how to pray. Luke 11:11:1 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name.Your kingdom come.3 Give us each day our daily bread, 4 and forgive us our sins,for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.And lead us not into temptation.” 5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” As I stumble for words to pray, the Holy Spirit helps me: Romans 8:26-27 "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."

11) I get to fight on behalf of my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ by praying for them!

12) The Lord wants me to perservere. So much of life here on earth is about enduring through difficulty and uncertainty (this theme is repeated in the letters from Jesus to the churches--to us--in Revelations). The Lord is my strength to perservere!

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the tools you provide to fight against our enemy with the strength you provide. I pray that we would regularly go to you--for strength and equipping. Father, I pray for my brothers and sisters and for myself as we fight against the lies and the accusations of the enemy who wants nothing more than for us to take our eyes off of your beauty and who will employ any means to do this. Help us to be alert. Help us to be grounded in your Word and in your character, and in your love for us! Help our faith where it is lacking. We pray all of this in Jesus mighty name. Amen

Monday, November 3, 2008

Ultimate Fighting


1 Timothy 6:12 "Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."

A very dear friend of mine is not a strong swimmer and gets nervous when she is in water. When she was little, she almost drowned in a swimming pool. She was telling me that one of the first dates with which her husband surprised her (before he knew of her aversion to water) was going kayaking. Despite her fear, she bravely decided to go forward with the date and stepped into the kayak. The thought of falling into the water did cross her mind though. She anticipated what she would do if she fell out of the kayak. Knowing that it could be a long, difficult, frightening struggle to stay above water, she thought she would rather just give up and let the water overtake her quickly, allowing herself to peacefully sink to the bottom of the lake…

It is not hard for us to see the irrationality of her thinking. After all, she did have a life jacket on. She also had a wonderful date--who is now her wonderful husband, who is a good swimmer, and who would have instantly dived into the water after her. Any amount of time she would spend fighting to stay above water would likely not compare with the probable years and years of life she had ahead of her to enjoy.

Yet, her story provides the perfect word picture for what my faith is like at times. Sometimes, I just want to give up. Sometimes, I don’t want to do the work of fighting. My lack of the will to fight is not rational. I have read about God’s unfathomably good character in the Word (which tells me He is Loving, Sovereign, Powerful, All Knowing, Forbearing, Mighty, Majestic, Just, Merciful, and Compassionate, and He is ALWAYS this way, infinitely). From His Word, from my own experience and from the testimony of others, I know that He is all-powerful, I know that He is all-wise, I know that He can do anything, and I know that all things are in His hands. From His Word and from His past acts of faithfulness to me, I know that He loves the whole world and me personally, and I know that He cares for all the details of my life. I know that He wants me to go to Him with everything. I know that He is my Help (as scandalous as that sounds!) in all things, and I have experienced this firsthand many times. I know that He is enjoyable and that my greatest joy is in Him, and I have tasted this!

Yet, as irrational as it is, sometimes I still want to give up! Usually, this process begins when I indulge my emotional responses to my circumstances. There is usually a triggering event (anything from a flat tire, to a hurtful action of a friend, to unforeseen expense, to a sudden illness, to tragedy striking a loved one, to running late for an important appointment, to an argument with my husband, etc), or I simply start to feel discontent with my circumstances for whatever reason. I begin to feel weary, sad, hurt, overwhelmed, lonely, frustrated, angry, nervous, or whatever. Although there is nothing wrong with these emotions themselves, they lead me to a crossroad. Sadly, instead of going to the cross (the place of access to God through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus where I can find love, guidance, grace, and sustaining power), I too often ride the wave of these emotions into a sea of sinful attitudes—bitterness, despair, faithlessness, self-centeredness, etc. These sinful attitudes (which are sins in themselves) often manifest in sinful behavior—lashing out with my tongue, wallowing in self pity, losing self control, becoming self-centered rather than loving and sacrificial, etc.

Here is an example of how this works: My husband sins against me and I feel hurt. Then, instead of going to meet with the Father through the Son to receive help from the Spirit, I selfishly indulge my hurt emotions and pursue my own interests (wasting time rather than stewarding it, going on a shopping spree, eating comfort food…fill in the blank). I do these things rather than doing the work of sacrificial pursuing love--forgiving him, praying for him, and seeking ways to bless and serve him from a sincere heart of love for God and for him. I feel guilty and without joy. I feel distant from God, and I feel distant from my husband. How do I get to such a place?

This passage comes sheds a lot of light on my wayward journey:

1 Peter 5:6-11 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

I understand that this passage was meant to be an encouragement to Christians who faced the threats of death, torture, and all sorts of persecution for their beliefs. My trials are not as dramatic as that, yet this Scripture has something for me too. When I go astray after facing some type of triggering event or emotion, sometimes I use it as a license to not humble myself (or submit myself) before God—to go to Him, to hear His Word, to obey His Word despite how I am feeling, to give Him my anxieties, to be watchful and aware, to be thankful for who he is and what he has done, to enjoy Him, and to ask Him for help. Instead, I simply allow myself to be devoured by my enemy rather than fighting with and in faith—in the character of my God, in His Word, in the promises of my God to restore, confirm, strengthen and establish me, in the dominion of my God forever and ever, and in the fact that any trial and temptation can be overcome through Him.

It is no wonder that this passage is telling us to be sober and alert. Isn’t it intuitive that our enemy would want to attack us when we are weakened by our circumstances and when we are least alert? A friend of mine wisely told me that she has learned to rebuke the enemy at the onset of accusing thoughts rather than following those thoughts into a downward spiral of despair where she can no longer discern what is a lie and what is in accord with the truth of God’s Word. Just as Eve listened to the Serpent's lies and it led her to sin, so when I listen to Satan's lies, it leads me to sin and away from freedom and joy in Christ. Going back to the example of a conflict with me husband, my mind can go from "See, he doesn't love you" to "Of course he doesn't love you, what is there to love?" to "God couldn't possible love you either". These are lies that lead to despair. After all, where am I without God's love? No where! If God doesn't love me, then what is the point? How different this would have been if I would have fought instead of allowing myself to believe one lie, and then another, and then another.

Yes, the Bible tells me to fight, yet the Biblical means of fighting is not what I might be inclined to think of as fighting—it has nothing to do with mustering up strength or will power or action in myself. It has everything to do with going to Jesus in faith and believing His Word rather than lies. Hebrews tells me in Chapter 11: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” In faith, I must go to him with my circumstances and emotions, confessing my sinful desires, asking Him to renew my mind so that it is inline with His Word, and asking Him for His supernatural strength (Holy Spirit) so that I can obey Him.

How do I go to God? Philippians 4 gives me some great tools:

Philippians 4:4-8 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”


From this passage, I get these reminders---

1) Remember the Lord who is the source of your joy! Remember the joy in Him that you have tasted.

2) You know that the Lord is near, act like it! You demonstrate the sincerity of your belief through your actions. Don’t indulge yourself in sinful, unloving, unkind behavior.

3) Rather than indulging your worries, go to God with them. Have a conversation with the Father who loves you. Tell Him what is on your heart. Be honest with Him. Listen to Him too—He speaks to you in the Word all the time!

4) Ask God for help! As you ask though, remember His goodness to you. Remember His faithfulness. Give Him thanks because there is a lot for which to be thankful to Him. (It is amazing what this practice does to lift my emotions).

5) God WILL meet you as you seek Him. He WILL guard your heart and mind in Jesus with peace. He does this in us even when our circumstances have not changed. Whether or not He sees fit to change our circumstances (either way we know He works for our good to conform us to the image of Jesus--see Romans 8:28-30), HE changes the state of our heart when we seek Him.

6) We do have a tool or a discipline that can help us when our emotions threaten to carry us down the wrong path. As my friend, Wendy, says in her book, “Practical Theology for Women”, we can get off the “emotional rollercoaster”. We can meditate on what is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. By the way, if we are wondering what these things are, we need only open the Word of God to find them. 2 Timothy 3:16 "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."

7) There is a peace that comes from obedience of heart and deed.

There is also another comforting thought—the battle belongs to the Lord. Even as the Lord commanded the Israelites on several occasions to fight, He assured them that He went ahead of them on their behalf. (See, Deut 3:18-22; Deut 20:1-4; Joshua 23:9-10; 2 Chronicles 20: 16-17; Nehemiah 4:10-20; Zech 10:5-6) We have victory through Him. HE is the One who will make us stand!

Dear Heavenly Father,

Forgive me for my lack of fighting and for my lack of endurance. Rather than going to you, I am too often content to be a puddle on the floor. I so easily give up, give in, and indulge my own sinful desires. Please help me, grow me, and change me. Thank you that I have access to you through the costly price of your Son’s life. Thank you Jesus, for winning this access on my behalf even though I did not deserve it then and do not deserve it now. Show me how to be alert and sober so that when I find myself in vulnerable times I would not be such an easy target for my enemy who wants to devour me. Thank you for revealing to me in increasing measure my sin and your goodness, as it only demonstrates what great love you showed in choosing me, dying for me, and living with me everyday. In Jesus’ Mighty Name, Amen