Fortunately, I did have some good time with Jesus reading the book of Ephesians this morning. I hope to spend much of the rest of today reading, meditating, and praying as well.
I need Jesus. My life does not work without Him. He is my source of joy, purpose, hope, peace, comfort, passion, and love.
Here are some areas of life where I have been struggling:
Hypocrisy—The Lord shows me a truth from His Word, and I often blog about what He is teaching me, yet I so often find myself forgetting what He has taught me. I struggle to live out what He reveals to me as truth. I find myself walking in circles and I have trouble seeing victory in certain areas of my life. This has made me reluctant to blog.
Not Believing God’s Truth with my Heart and my Actions—So often, I believe God’s truth for other people, and not for myself. If a friend came to me with the struggles in which I have found myself lately, I would direct that friend to God’s Word. I would gently point out to my friend that what she is believing about herself, her circumstances and her God is not consistent with what is in God’s Word. At least part of this struggle in me lately is that I have not been filling my mind with God’s Word—that is, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, whatever is excellent and worthy of praise, and whatever I have learned, received, heard and seen in Scripture (Phil 4:8-9). Consequently, I am filling my mind up with what I see in the world. I am setting myself up for failure, and so it is no surprise that I am struggling to see victory.
Not wanting to do the hard work of relationship—My number one sin in relationships with others is self protection at the expense of putting the interests of others above me.
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.”
I have been hurt a lot in relationships in the last two years. The hardest part is that all of these relationships have been with Christians. What has made that even more difficult is that God has been showing me an aspect of the gospel I never understood before, and that is how He works in community. He is a God of community—Father, Son, and Spirit. We were created for community with God and with others. God’s Spirit works in us in mighty ways through community, and we image God and the gospel in community. Community is part of the gospel—it is part of the redemption we receive from the Father, through Jesus by the Holy Spirit! This is all over Scripture. I never saw it like this before, in part because I am a product of the highly individualistic culture in which I live. Now that God is showing this aspect of the gospel to me, I hunger for it. (if you want to learn more about this, a good place to start is by asking God to show this to you and then prayerfully reading the book of Ephesians).
Yet because of the hurtful situations in which I have been in the last couple years with Christian brothers and sisters, I have a hard time imagining that Christian fellowship in my life could actually look like Christian fellowship in the Scriptures. I find it much easier to love than to be loved. Yet, I know the mutuality of relationship is something that God wants for me too—so that I can know and image Him, and so that I can walk in the light and experience grace administered to me from Him through my brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet, I struggle with trusting that people actually care about me and that they want anything more than to use me and throw me away when relationship becomes inconvenient. Maybe on some level it causes me to struggle with trusting that God actually cares about me. I know that is sick and wrong, since my God paid an unfathomable price to bring me into relationship with Him.
I also do not want to make an idol out of relationships. I don’t want to look for something in relationships that I ought to be getting only from God. While relationships are important and a natural and necessary outflow of loving God, they are secondary to loving God. Matthew 22:34-40 “But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ 37 And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Learning How Not to Sin in Response to Being Sinned Against—Maybe the section before this one helps to shed light on this one. I want to follow Jesus’ example of sincere love, grace, patience, and commitment to the truth in the way I respond to being sinned against. I do not want to quench the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 4:25-32 & 5:1-21 “25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of isobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light.
Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,and arise from the dead,and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Heavenly Father, Thank you for the opportunity to come before your throne of grace because of Jesus. Thank you for not letting me live in the place of avoiding you, but in your grace, you ALWAYS bring me back. You are my Good Shepherd. Thank you for your love that I do not deserve. Thank you for your patience with me, as I am a dumb sheep who struggles to learn the lessons you teach me over and over again. Thank you that somewhere inside of me, I KNOW that the gospel works. I have seen it work many times. I believe, help my unbelief. Give me faith in you. Give me faith in your Word. Let me live in faith, and not by my emotions, circumstances, and what I see around me. God I confess all of these sins I have named above to you. I want nothing to do with them. Fill me with your Spirit, that I may turn away from them and live in your truth instead. Empty me of the lies I have filled myself up with lately, and fill me again with your truth. Grant me perseverance and endurance. Grant me the ability to love others as you would have me love them. Do not let relationships be an idol for me. Forgive me for the ways they have been. Help me to experience community as you would have it. Keep me close to you. I want to experience you every moment of my life. I pray for those in my life with whom I have strained relationships. Show me how to love them. Protect me against any anger, bitterness, or malice. Convict me and open my eyes to show me any ways that I might be sinning against them—whether that would be in the original circumstances from which the conflict arose, or whether that would be in response to their sin. Give me supernatural love for them—the kind that comes from your Spirit. Show me tangible ways of loving them and blessing them. Do not let the enemy deceive me or have any room in my life or theirs. Open our eyes to your truth. Give us soft and humble hearts. Protect us from the influence of our enemy. Be glorified in our lives. Redeem these situations, I pray. I love you. I worship you. You are worthy of losing everything else and you are worth every heartache this world may bring. You are my treasure. Help me to always remember that and to always live like that. In Jesus Name, Amen