An article in my daily devotional booklet made me think about the purposes God has for my life. I used to spend most of my time (even as a Christ-follower) trying to run from difficulties, get people-approval, and make life comfortable and happy for me. But now I recognize that as the world’s way of life, not God’s way. His way is to love Him with all I am, keep His kingdom first, and love others—especially those who belong to His family. I think about the following verses (quoted from the New Living Translation):
Galatians 2:20: “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
From 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “…You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price….”
Since God bought me with such a high price, and now I belong to Him, I need to spend the remaining moments (or if God permits, years) of my life loving and serving God and bringing glory to Him.
Luke 8:11, 15, “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. …15 [T]he ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.”
I want to be “good ground,” so when Jesus plants seeds from God’s Word in my heart., I will humbly receive them (James 1:21). Jesus gives me living water—His Word and His Spirit—for watering the plants. As they start to grow. I can nurture them with the plant food of faith that results in obedience. (James 2:17, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”) I will diligently practice applying God’s Word to my life. I need to pull out weeds like anger, bitterness, jealousy, regret, strife, pride, haughtiness, and anything else that interferes with nourishing my soul.
Then these plants in my heart can mature and produce Holy Spirit fruit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
(Scripture quotes are New King James.)
“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” (Psalm 19:1)
Lord, You make the wind blow and cause grass to grow.
You give the birds their wings and a song to sing.
You awaken green in spring
From brown of earth’s sleeping.
You paint sunrise at each morning’s light
And sunset near the edge of night.
You give light and breath to all, great and small.
Awesome, almighty–no measure of Your worth,
Maker of heaven and earth.
To those who seek You, You offer more and better life.
Yes, You bestow unbreakable, eternal life.
All thanks and honor to You, O God Most High.
You give rich, abundant love and grace.
O Worthy Lord, please accept our praise.
“[Ask] the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you. … that the hand of the LORD has done this, In whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?” (Job 12:7, 9-10)
(Scriptures are from the New American Standard Bible.)
Yes, I can obey God’s Word! I’m through telling myself the “I can’t” lie. Sometimes, when I would read a Scripture portion or verse, I would say internally, “God says to do _________, but I really can’t. So I’ll just skip that part and look for something I can do. For example, I would read Philippians 4:8 (“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.”). Then I’d think, Well, yes, but you know I’ve tried to think on these good things, and I really can’t. Other thoughts always take over. Then my mind runs wild, and I fall back into a negative outlook.
I repent. No more “I can’t.” No more excuses. I will choose to listen to the truth that by the power of the Holy Spirit I can obey God. I will choose life, not death. (Deuteronomy 30:19 “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.”)
(Scripture quotes are New King James.)
In addition to this blog, I have started a second blog called “Journey toward Wholeness” in which I share about my experience in dealing with a 4-month bout with anxiety problems. This is a re-blog of my first post there:
From “Journey Toward Wholeness,” https://journey1617.wordpress.com/
“In this blog, I ‘m sharing mostly about the battle I faced when medication problems threw me into a bout with anxiety late last year. Because many people struggle with depression/anxiety, I’m hoping these accounts of my feelings, thoughts, and the help God has given me may benefit someone. [I’ll continue the “Tricia’s Journal Jots Blog” with general posts.]
I’ve had difficulty with depression and anxiety for much of my life. (They often go together.) For me, medicine, counseling, and other therapies have helped. God is to be praised for all the help I received because He is behind it all. He is the source of every good thing. I have tried at times to function without the medicine, hoping that extra Bible reading or more prayer would take care of my problems. But I couldn’t do it. Speaking from experience, I can say that drawing near to God is a wonderful thing, but getting chemical imbalances corrected with medicine can also make a big difference.
I remarked once that God could just heal me, and I wouldn’t need medicine. My pastor reminded me that God could heal my eyes too, and I wouldn’t need glasses, but that wasn’t God’s priority work in my life right now. So I decided to thank God that medicines have been developed to help with the problems I have. I’m also very thankful for the many people who prayed for me and loved me through this most recent struggle.
How many times my thoughts stray from focus during the day! I find myself going over and over conversations or actions, thinking about what I should or shouldn’t have said or done. Or sometimes I’m planning what I’ll do if such and such happens or if so and so does this or that.
But I have hope. Since I’m in Christ, old things have passed away (died), and new things have come (2 Corinthians 5:17). I have received the Holy Spirit who gives me power to put off the old and put on the new. When I catch myself thinking the old way, I can say to myself,
“No, self. Focus on the task at hand. If it doesn’t take much thought (comb hair, vacuum), think about the Scripture you meditated on this morning or heaven or Jesus or God’s attributes or other wonderful things.”
Then as I begin to focus on the good things and let go of the scattered thoughts, I will be obeying God’s Word by renewing my mind. (See Romans 12:2 and James 1:22.)
(Photo by Paula Satijn, “Mirror.” Found in Flickr Creative Commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulasatijn/79850464800/)
God gave us good gifts on Good Friday, such as the forgiveness of our sins through the death of Jesus on the cross, direct access to God when the temple curtain in front of the Most Holy Place was torn in two, and most important, the proof of His astounding love for us.
Today I want to remember what it cost the Triune God to give these gifts to us. Jesus laid aside His glory, honor, and equality with God to become a lowly human baby and experience temptation, rejection and other struggles as a man. Finally He suffered the agony of Gethsemane and the humiliation and excruciating pain of betrayal, abandonment, mockery, beating, the torturous death of the cross, and the separation of the “Tri-unity” when our sin was laid on Him. The Almighty Father could have said, “These humans aren’t worth letting my beloved Son go through all this,” and then sent His angels to the rescue. But He didn’t. He watched it all.
And God did it all for us when we were still sinners, rebellious and determined to go our own way (Romans 5:8). Incredible love! Yet true. I’m reminded of an old hymn that includes the lines, “Why should my Savior to Calvary go? Why should He love me so?” (“Why Should He Love Me So?”—words and music by Robert Harkness.) I also think of the chorus of another hymn, “Lest I forget Gethsemane, lest I forget Thine agony, lest I forget Thy love for me, lead me to Calvary.” (“Lead Me to Calvary”—words by Jennie E. Hussey.)
Yes, God gave us wonderful things on Good Friday. May I never forget or take for granted the great love He showed at such great cost.