Fruit of the Spirit

As a mother of 2 energetic boys…Connor 6 and Bryce 4…I find myself…on a daily basis… finding ways for them to exert their energy! Like playing kick ball on the street…hitting tennis balls off a tee…or heading to a nearby playground or park with a splash pad.

When my boys do not have this outlet…for boys to just be boys…to go run…jump… play…collect bugs…explore the outdoors…they drive me bonkers and I find my patience tested!

God forbid we have rainy day here in Arizona and we get cooped up in the house all day! Playing board games indoors like Candyland…Trouble…and Sorry only go so far!

And so when my patience is tested I find myself asking God to give me patience…because there are certainly days I feel that I have absolutely no patience! Have you had any of those days?

I can laugh…for a minute at least…as I am reminded of the lines from the movie Evan Almighty…where Morgan Freeman who plays God asks…

“Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does He give them the opportunity to be patient?”

And then reality sets in that God has given me yet another opportunity to grow in patience when my boys are wrestling each other on the family room floor!

As Christians…we may all be familiar with patience being a fruit of the Spirit in the Bible.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 NASB

The “fruit of the Spirit” is a biblical term that sums up the nine visible attributes of a true Christian life.

I have always found it interesting that the scripture says “fruit” and not “fruits.” Have you ever wondered that?

And there are some scholars and commentaries that may actually refer to the ‘fruits” rather than “fruit” of the Spirit. However, we can see clearly from this scripture that the singular “fruit” is used.

I do personally believe…and others may beg to differ… this is significant because the original Greek term translated as “fruit” is singular signifying that there is one fruit with nine attributes. And thus…I believe these are not individual “fruits” from which we can pick and choose.

For instance, an apple may have the following attributes: red…round… sweet… edible…seeded…juicy. But it is still an apple…one apple with these 6 attributes.

So the “fruit of the Spirit” is one “fruit” of the Spirit with nine attributes.

And even more importantly…we must understand that as Christians…we all have the fruit of the Spirit available to us! We don’t have to ask God for patience…or love…or joy…or peace…etc. because we already have it in us!

When we give our life to Jesus…the fruit of the Spirit…all nine attributes… are planted inside us in seed form. We are given the fruit of the Spirit…by the Holy Spirit!

And so although we don’t need to ask God specifically for these nine attributes…what we may need to ask for is a greater yield of this fruit on a daily basis…or determine what may be hindering the seed planted in us from further growing.

Because ultimately, Jesus commands us to produce fruit.

When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. John 15:8 NLT

So are you producing much fruit? Which attributes do you struggle with most?

Do you struggle with love…joy…or peace?

Do you struggle with patience…kindness…goodness?

Do you struggle with faithfulness…gentleness…or self-control?

We all have fruit of the Spirit attributes to further develop and grow. Uuugh…patience and self- control our certainly my big ones! And after reading further…I can probably add more to my list!

Check out each of these attributes and do a self-examination to determine which attributes you may need to further develop and grow.

Love

Dear children let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1John 3:18 NIV

Is your love unconditional? Or is your love most evident when everything goes your way?

This type of fruit keeps on loving even when it’s difficult to show affection to others. The capacity to love grows out of the agape love…the selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional love…from the heavenly Father.

Joy

For the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10 NIV

Can you have joy in the midst of difficult circumstances? Or is your joy based upon a false joy that is found in people…places…possessions…positions…or personalities?

Not that anyone of us should be joyful about the hard times, but rather our joy comes from God who is with us…in it and through it. God uses every trial to help us become stronger in the faith.

Peace

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-8 NIV

Are you consumed with anxiety and worry when everything falls apart? Or can you rest in God’s peace?

There is no peace for the wicked (Isaiah 48:2). But for us as Christians…it is available every time we pray and leave our concerns with God.

Patience

Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience. Colossians 1:1NIV

Can you be still and wait on God? Or are you tempted to always move ahead so you can stay in control?

Patience is a fruit that will grow with your experience of being stretched in faith especially in times of trial.  Forbearance is another word for patience…We don’t have to pray for patience…it’s there already!

Kindness

A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 2 Timothy 2:24 NIV

Do others sense your kindness in words and actions? Or are they more accustomed to your angry response?

A gentle word…soft answer…or a helping hand…all demonstrate the fruit of kindness in our culture of unfortunate rudeness and selfishness.

Goodness

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. 3 John 11NIV

Are your conversations marked with genuine virtue and honor? Or is your conversation tainted with worldly language…immoral tendencies…or gossip?

Goodness doesn’t mean that we are perfect…but rather someone who sincerely reflects the integrity of God within. A Christian who demonstrates the fruit of goodness has the tendency to believe the best about people.

Faithfulness

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2 NIV

Does your reputation reflect dependability and steadfastness in the faith? Or do people expect you to be late…undependable…or irresponsible?

Our faithfulness represents God’s Spirit dwelling within. Those who cultivate the fruit of faithfulness are compelled to complete every good work for His glory.

Gentleness

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5NIV

Is your gentle and meek spirit felt around those who live or work with you? Or do they feel that you are a hard and legalistic person to deal with?

A spirit of gentleness gives grace freely…and consistently. Believers and unbelievers should feel at ease around us because of our presence of gentleness.

Self-Control

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. Titus 2:11-12 NIV

Do you control your appetites? Or do they control you?

Christians can demonstrate a life of self-control and discipline in a world where every day is an opportunity to allow our flesh to take control. We have the power through the Spirit to control our worldly desires and actions.

Did you take note of any attributes that you struggle with? What may be hindering you from growing and maturing in these areas?

On our own…we will all struggle…I struggle!

But be encouraged! …Because we have been given the supernatural ability to overcome by the Holy Spirit! If the Holy Spirit planted the seed in us then He will certainly empower and strengthen us to grow and mature!

And furthermore…the growing of the fruit is not a passive process but an active one. We cannot do nothing and just expect the seed that is in us to grow!

Yes…we must abide in Jesus as John 15:5 says…But many of the nine attributes are listed elsewhere in the Bible as commands from God that we are to “do”!

We are commanded to “love.” (Matthew 22:37-39)… “be joyful” (1 Thessalonians 5:16)… “pursue peace” (2 Timothy 2:22)… “walk with patience” (Ephesians 4:2)… “clothe ourselves with kindness” (Colossians 3:12)… “do good to all men” (Galatians 6:10)… “stand fast in faith” (1Corinthians 16:13)… “show gentleness” (Titus 3:2)… “have self-control” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27).

These are all active commands for us to grow the seed that is planted in us…to grow the fruit of the Spirit to maturity.

If you notice the fruit of the Spirit begins with Love and ends with Self-control.

Evangelist and Bible teacher Joyce Meyer has an interesting perspective. She says…

[Love and Self-Control are like bookends. All the fruit of the Spirit comes out of love. You can’t have joy…peace…patience…etc without love. And all this is held in place by self-control.] Paraphrased

Whenever we have those days where we feel we have no patience…or whatever area we may be struggling with…we need to remind ourselves that we can’t do it in our strength. We need to continue pushing through and rely on the strength of the Holy Spirit!

The more we draw near to God…praying and reflecting on His Word…the more we will experience the fruit of the Spirit in our life.

We aren’t perfect and we never will be…but we can certainly grow and mature in the fruit of the Spirit.

Reflection Points:

  1. Do you find yourself asking God to give you patience…or joy…or kindness…or self-control, etc?
  2. Do you understand that as Christians we are actually given the nine attributes of the fruit of the Spirit? So we already have it!
  3. Are you producing much fruit? Which attributes do you struggle with most? What may be hindering you from developing and growing the seed that is planted in you?
  4. Do you struggle with love…joy…or peace? Do you struggle with patience…kindness…goodness? Do you struggle with faithfulness…gentleness…or self-control?

Action Points:

  1. When we give our life to Jesus…the fruit of the Spirit…all nine attributes… are planted inside us in seed form. We are given the fruit of the Spirit…by the Holy Spirit!
  2. And so although we don’t need to ask God specifically for these nine attributes…what we may need to ask for is a greater yield of this fruit on a daily basis…or determine what may be hindering the seed planted in us from further growing.
  3. God commands us to produce fruit. Read through each attribute listed and see which areas you may need a greater yield of in your life.
  4. Growing and maturing the seed that has been planted in us requires first and foremost that we are abiding in God and His Word. We will further mature as we pray and read God’s word on a daily basis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Seasons

Growing up as a child back East…I was very accustomed to the 4 seasons…Spring…Summer …Autumn…and Winter.

I have sweet memories of experiencing and enjoying each season as it came …and always anticipating the excitement of the next season as one season ended and another began.

Having lived in Arizona for the last 15 years…I can say that even though we do have 4 seasons…many people would claim that we only have 2 seasons…hot and hotter!

There are certainly great benefits of living in Arizona and having warmer weather pretty much year round…but unfortunately we don’t experience the 4 seasons and the unique characteristics that depict each season as in other parts of the country.

And for some of you shoveling snow right now…you are probably thinking how you could care less about experiencing the unique characteristics of each season…like snow in the winter!

As we know…seasons are periods of the year that are typically marked by their own particular weather conditions and temperatures… depending on the part of the country you live in.

And whether we like one season over another season…God created the 4 seasons on the 4th day of creation and determined…according to His sovereignty…when one season ends and another begins. After all, He is the creator of time…and seasons.

Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years. Genesis 1:14 NLT

Just as Spring…Summer…Autumn…and Winter mark the 4 seasons…we as Christians experience these 4 seasons…spiritual seasons…in our lives as well.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven… Ecclesiastes 3:1KJV

A characterization of each season is important in understanding just how these seasons correlate into our lives as Christians.

Spring is characterized by more daylight…moderate temperatures…and plants beginning or resuming growing.

Summer is characterized by the most daylight…warmer temperatures (Hotter than hot temps in AZ!)…and plants growing and maturing.

Autumn is characterized by daylight lessoning…moderate to cooler temperatures…and plants mature and beginning to go dormant.

Winter is characterized by less daylight…colder temperatures…and most plants either die or go dormant.

These 4 physical seasons can be correlated to 4 spiritual seasons in our spiritual walk as well as in our current circumstances.

Spring Season

Are you in a Spring season?

Just like the trees and plants and flowers are beginning to grow and bloom in Spring…we too may be beginning to experience a great hunger and desire to grow in our relationship with God…whether we are a new Christian or not.

Or maybe we are beginning a new season…a new chapter…in our lives…

Or maybe a new thing is sprouting up…like a new phase of parenting…or a new job…or a new vision for our lives.

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed. Isaiah 43:19-20 NLT

The temperatures of your life are nice and fairly mild in Spring as you may feel a new freshness in your life!

Summer Season

Are you in a Summer season?

Just like the trees and plants and flowers are maturing in the Summer…we too are experiencing greater growth and maturity in our relationship with God.

And just as the temperatures in Summer are the hottest…sometimes the heat in our lives is turned up too!

We may be experiencing greater pressures…greater challenges…greater struggles in this season of our life…we may feel like we are literally going through the fire!

For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD. Malachi 3:3 NLT

But it is in this fire…it is in this heat…that we experience greater growth and maturity in our relationship with God!

Why? Because the challenges and pressures and struggles in our lives push us to seek God even more than ever! These challenges…pressures…struggles push us to rely on His strength…not ours!

9 But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! 2 Corinthians 12:9 AMP

The temperatures of your life may certainly be hot in Summer…but God…as the Refiner…is sitting in the heat with you…every step of the way!

Autumn Season

Are you in an Autumn season?

Just as trees and plants and flowers have matured and their fruits are harvested in Autumn…we too may be experiencing a harvest in our lives.

We are reaping the benefits of spending time with God…praying and studying God’s Word. We are reaping the benefits of leaning on God and trusting Him. The benefits of spending time with Him is evident as our faith in God has grown stronger and we finally experience peace and joy in our lives.

I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. John 15:5 MSG

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22 NIV

We may have also put in a lot of time…energy…and efforts in certain areas of our lives…like marriage…relationships…physical well-being…jobs…and are now seeing the fruits of our labor!

You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be! Psalm 128:2 NLT

The temperatures of your life may be more pleasant…moderate to cool…in Autumn as you see God’s faithfulness in your life after you have sowed and sowed and sowed!

Winter Season

Are you in a Winter season?

Just like the trees and plants and flowers die or are dormant in the Winter…we too may be experiencing a death…the passing of a loved one…the end of a career or job…the end of a marriage or relationship.

Maybe you are experiencing a dormancy…an inactivity…in your relationship with God or in your prayers to God.

Maybe you have put forth a lot of time…energy…efforts towards a relationship…new job…or treatment for an illness…and just don’t see anything happening…

You have prayed and petitioned…you have trusted and believed in God… and haven’t yet received any answers.

Be encouraged in this Winter season!

God knows the seeds that are lying dormant underground in the stillness and cold of Winter. He knows…He sees…What you do not!

I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s Decree.

“For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work and the way I think is beyond the way you think.

Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.” Isaiah 55:8-11 MSG

The temperatures in your life are cold…and silent in Winter…but remember God is all-knowing and all-powerful and all-present…and He is always on time!

It doesn’t matter whether your current physical season corresponds with your current spiritual season because…

More importantly…remember that God created seasons to change! Just like the physical seasons change…so it is with our spiritual seasons!

Whether we are in a good season or difficult season…whether we like it or not…God is in complete control!

We will all experience these 4 seasons…We will all experience Spring…Summer… Autumn… and Winter spiritually in our lives. We must stay the course and embrace the changing seasons because change means transformation. And we are being transformed to look more and more like Christ!

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord–who is the Spirit–makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT

And to drive this point even further…check this out!

In case you didn’t know, many scholars have researched that numbers in the bible are symbolic and have relevance. There is biblical significance in the number 4.

The number 4 means earthly completeness in form or function…it denotes creative works and always has reference to the material creation…as pertaining to the earth…things “under the sun” …and things terrestrial.

It is not coincidental that God created the 4 seasons on the 4th day! The physical universe was set into motion and created on the 4th day of creation. Interestingly…

There are 4 elements: earth…air…fire…and water.

There are 4 corners (directions) of the earth: north…south…east…and west.

Even the 4th Commandment in Exodus 20:8…Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy…. is a statement of God’s resting from His creative work. The Sabbath is commanded for His creatures to rest…enjoy Him…and glorify Him.

God is a purposeful God…nothing is formed or created by accident! Just like Him creating the 4 physical seasons is a sign of completeness in His physical creation…Him allowing us to experience all 4 spiritual seasons in our lives is a pathway and sign of completeness in Him!

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:4 NIV

When we understand God’s ultimate purpose to make us mature…complete…and not lacking anything in these changing seasons…we can push through the difficult seasons of life and find joy and peace in the good seasons of life!

Reflection Points:

  1. What season are you in spiritually?
  2. What is God’s ultimate purpose in the changing seasons?
  3. Does knowing God’s plan and purpose help you to push through the difficult seasons in your life?

Action Points:

  1. God created seasons to change! Just like the physical seasons change…so it is with our spiritual seasons! Whether we are in a good season or difficult season…whether we like it or not…God is in complete control!
  2. We will all experience these 4 seasons…We will all experience Spring…Summer… Autumn… and Winter spiritually in our lives. We must stay the course and embrace the changing seasons because change means transformation. And we are being transformed to look more and more like Christ!
  3. God is a purposeful God…nothing is formed or created by accident! Just like Him creating the 4 physical seasons is a sign of completeness in His physical creation…Him allowing us to experience all 4 spiritual seasons in our lives is a pathway and sign of completeness in Him!

 

 

 

 

 

How Are You Waiting?

 

Isn’t waiting tough!!! Just the other day I found myself becoming impatient as I stared at the screen on my cell phone waiting for a friend to text me a picture! A few moments seemed like eternity! Even with modern technology and conveniences…waiting can be so difficult!

We all go through times of waiting in our lives. Whether it’s waiting for a job opportunity…waiting for a husband if you are single…or waiting to begin a family.

And for some of us it may be waiting for a breakthrough…a breakthrough in our marriage…a breakthrough in our finances…or a breakthrough in physical or emotional healing.

We find that sometimes…ugh more like many times! …our timing isn’t what God has in mind. And we find ourselves wondering if He will ever answer our prayers or if He knows the urgency of our situation.

We can easily become impatient…anxious…doubtful…fearful… frustrated…angry…discouraged…and even resentful… during these waiting periods.

Waiting wouldn’t be so hard if God would just answer our prayers right away? Right?

We can see that over and over we are told in the Bible to wait on the Lord. One example in the Word of God is in Psalm 27:14 which says…

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. NIV

Now this is pretty interesting…check it out!

There are several words translated as “wait” in the Old Testament. Two Hebrew words qavah and yachal can similarly be translated “wait” and mean “look patiently, hope, expect, and trust”.

Although we can probably all agree that patience and hope are a big part of the waiting process… I would like to draw your attention to a third Hebrew word damam which is sometimes translated “wait” and means “grow silent, be still,” and even “rest”.

This translation caught my attention because really if you think about it… many times the waiting period is far from restful…isn’t it?!

So…therefore I would like to pose the question… “How are you waiting?”

And because we are always waiting for something…the “what” we are waiting for is of course important…but the “how”…the attitude while we wait is of greater importance.

How are you waiting today?

Are you waiting but at the same time trying to help God out by taking matters into your own hands?

Are you waiting with feelings of frustration…anger…discouragement…or hopelessness?

Are you waiting with grumbling and complaining on your lips as did the Israelites on their way to the Promised Land?

Are you waiting with anxiousness…doubt…or a lack of faith in a God with the power to make the impossible possible?

So…How should we be waiting?

And what exactly does “restful” waiting mean?

1. “Restful” waiting means reminding ourselves that God is in control no matter what.

A king’s heart is a water stream that the LORD controls; he directs it wherever he pleases. Proverbs 21:1 ISV

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9 NLT

Think of W.A.I.T. as the acronym…

With

Anticipation

I

Trust.

As we anticipate God’s answers or breakthrough in our situation…we must keep trusting Him and keep our mind and thoughts on him.

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3 NIV

2. “Restful” waiting also means we don’t take matters in our own hands when God doesn’t move fast enough!

Although there is the aspect of walking in faith and taking action in some circumstances…I am talking about doing things in our own strength and power…and even trying to manipulate our situation to get what we want.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. Isaiah 55:8 NLT

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT

God’s delays are not necessarily His denials.

1. “Restful” waiting means praying without ceasing or giving up even when we don’t think He hears us.

Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

Be unceasing in prayer [pray perseveringly]… 1 Thessalonians 5:17 AMP

Oh and guess what?! God does hear you! Don’t believe me…believe Him!

I love the Lord, because he has heard [and now hears] my voice and my supplications. Psalm 116:1 AMP

 4. “Restful” waiting means praising and thanking Him through the waiting period. It is amazing how our gratitude will so quickly change our attitude.

Thanking and praising Him allows us to focus on His greatness and power.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4 NIV

It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to the Most High. Psalm 92:1 NLT

Therefore I will praise you, LORD, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name. 2Samuel 22:50 NIV

5. “Restful” waiting means studying God’s Word and His promises.

When we find ourselves doubting, we need to turn to His Word and His promises for then we can “rest” by knowing He has an amazing plan and purpose for our life.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11NIV

Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. Joshua 1:8 NLT

Waiting…no matter what…is no doubt…hard! I can certainly attest to that!

God knows our every need…He knows what we need before we even know it’s a need! But what He is more concerned about is…How we are waiting…our attitude while we wait. 

Remember…He is omniscient…He is all-knowing! His delays are not necessarily His denials!

Keep trusting Him…trust and believe that He hears you and will answer you according to the proper time…the right time…the best time…His time!

Reflection Points:

  1. What are you waiting for today?
  2. How are you waiting?
  3. Are you waiting but trying to help God out by taking matters into your own hands?
  4. Are you waiting with feelings of frustration…anger…discouragement…or hopelessness?
  5. Are you waiting with grumbling and complaining on your lips as did the Israelites on their way to the Promised Land?
  6. Are you waiting with anxiousness…doubt…or a lack of faith in a God with the power to make the impossible possible?

Action Points:

Review the 5 steps outlined above to help you in your waiting period. They will help you wait restfully and have the right attitude…while you wait for whatever you are waiting for God to do in your life!

The Faith of Four Men

My mother battled illness for many years…for an approximate 20 year span of her life. She fought through breast cancer…and beat it. She fought through colon cancer…and beat it. And after all this…she was thankfully cancer-free…

But then a time came where she faced another illness…she battled an infection that seemed puzzling to her doctors. She was in the ICU for 3 months…in a coma. The doctors did not have a good prognosis.

I can honestly say that my faith was greatly challenged! I clung to Jesus and His promises. I did believe in the healing power of Jesus…but there were a number of obstacles that tried to get in the way of my faith….a number of obstacles that tried to discourage me.

You may be very familiar with the great faith passage in Mark 2:1-12…the passage where Jesus performs the miracle of healing a paralytic. This passage is full of several life lessons as this miracle is referenced and emphasized by many teachers and preachers of the Word. But I want to focus on the former aspect (verses 1-5) of this passage which highlights a demonstration of great faith.

1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

6Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7“Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

8Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11“I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Ok…so let’s examine the faith demonstrated by these 4 men.

First of all…back up for just a minute. There had to have been some level of faith…maybe even just a little faith…maybe even just a small seed of faith. Regardless of how much or how little…there was faith! Faith implanted in the hearts of each of these men…faith that Jesus had the power to heal!

Because really…if there wasn’t even an itsy bitsy ounce of faith…then why would they even think about venturing out with their paralytic friend? Why would these 4 men subject themselves to the physical strain of carrying another human…Lord knows how many miles…to Jesus?

Is there a situation you are facing which requires you to have faith in the power of Jesus to move in your life or in the life of another person?

Like the paralytic…you too may need the power of Jesus to heal…or maybe the power of Jesus to provide…or maybe the power of Jesus to restore…or maybe the power of Jesus to forgive…or maybe the power of Jesus to strengthen…or maybe the power of Jesus to set you free.

Regardless of the size…faith in the power and ability of our Lord Jesus Christ is just the beginning!

As these 4 men…carrying the paralytic…approached the home where Jesus was preaching…it became quite clear that “a large crowd gathered” (ISV) … it was “so packed with visitors” (NLT) … “they gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door.”(NIV)

Can you imagine what these 4 men must have thought and felt when they saw that there was no room left, not even outside the door?

What would you have thought or felt?

What do you think or feel when you see an obstacle in the way of your faith? Do you become discouraged…lose hope…and give up? Or are you determined to push through in your faith?

Well, these 4 men could have easily been discouraged…lost hope…and given up. They could have said… “There is no way! It’s too crowded! Let’s just go back home.” BUT…

Check out what they did!

These 4 men…carrying their paralytic friend…climbed up to the roof and began to strip it away so they could lower their friend to Jesus! Seriously? That sounds crazy doesn’t it?

Let’s stop here for just a moment…

In Mark’s account (Mark 2:1-12), the suggestion is that the roof was typical of those in Palestine at the time. Palestinian houses had flat roofs. The roofs were used for many purposes…for storing things… drying flax (story of the spies in Joshua)…and as places for quiet and prayer (these little one room houses otherwise had nowhere else that one could be alone). And for that reason there was always an outside stairway up to the roof.

Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.

Now Luke’s account (Luke 5:17-26) seems to describe a Greek or Roman house…with a roof constructed of tiles.

So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus. NLT

I mean we can pretty much figure that these 4 men hadn’t planned to carry any tools with them (like carrying another person wasn’t enough) especially to deconstruct a roof by removing tiles and creating an opening large enough to pass their friend through the roof.

Clearly this was no easy task! Right?

These 4 men could have certainly said, “Carrying our friend is too heavy…climbing up these stairs is too much…deconstructing this roof is too hard!”

But I don’t believe they did…and their actions proved much louder than words.

Again, this demonstrates their determination…These 4 men were determined to bring their paralytic friend to Jesus to be healed…no matter what!

Despite how crowded it was…despite how physically tired they probably were…despite how long it took…and despite how much trouble and how inconvenient it was to get their friend in front of Jesus!

They pushed through in their faith!

How determined are you in your faith when faced with obstacles…roadblocks…challenges that may push your physical limits…your mental limits…your emotional limits…your time limits…all your limits pretty much?

No one said faith would be easy. It certainly wasn’t easy for these 4 men!

But…

Faith makes things possible, not easy. ~Author Unknown

And so here is the key…Jesus saw the faith of these 4 men.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5 NIV

Yes…Jesus healed the paralytic physically but even more importantly he healed him spiritually.

The faith of these 4 men moved Jesus and made this miraculous healing possible!

Our faith moves Jesus…it moves Him to heal us…provide for us…restore us…forgive us…strengthen us…and set us free!

And just like these 4 men’s faith…

Our faith moves Jesus to heal…provide…restore…forgive…strengthen…and set others free as well!

As my mother laid motionless in the hospital bed…a number of obstacles certainly tried to get in the way of my faith…but…

I stood firm in my faith! … I stood firm in the healing power of Jesus and witnessed a true miracle when my mother woke up one day from the coma and lived a number of years longer…long enough to see me get married and see her grandson born.

And believe me… having faith was far from easy…but having faith moved Jesus to make my mother’s healing possible…as well as the paralytic man’s healing possible…

And it will move Jesus to make things possible in your life and the life of others as well!

Reflection Points:

  1. Is there a situation you are currently facing which requires you to have faith in the power of Jesus to move in your life or in the life of another person?
  2. What do you think or feel when you see an obstacle in the way of your faith? Do you become discouraged…lose hope…and give up? Or are you determined to push through in your faith?
  3. How determined are you in your faith when faced with obstacles…roadblocks…challenges that may push your physical limits…your mental limits…your emotional limits…your time limits…all your limits pretty much?
  4. How can you push through in faith when facing these limits?

Action Points:

  1. Having faith in the power and ability of Jesus is the beginning. Even if your faith is small…Jesus says that if you have faith even as small as a mustard seed…which by the way is one of the smallest of all seeds…that nothing will be impossible for you!(Matthew 17:20)
  2. The reality is that you will face obstacles that will try to get in the way of your faith. Your faith will be tested. But it is important to keep pushing through in your faith…not becoming discouraged…not losing hope…not giving up! Pushing through like these 4 men of faith…no matter what challenges may push your physical limits…your mental limits…your emotional limits…your time limits…all your limits!
  3. You can push through in your faith by staying close to Jesus…clinging to Jesus just like I did in my mother’s situation. When we draw near to God…He will draw near to us. (James 4:8)
  4. Keep spending time with Him…praying and reading His word. Read about other individuals who pushed through in their faith in the Bible. (The Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11:1)

Untested Faith is Unreliable Faith

I attended a Sports Medicine conference this past weekend and I was reminded of the time I was doing an internship with an orthopedic surgeon during graduate school.

I had the opportunity to stand alongside this physician in the operating room…scrubs and all…and observe the repair of an Achilles tendon rupture.

For those of you not familiar with the Achilles tendon…it is the thick cord-like tendon that you can feel just behind your ankle…a few inches above your heel.

Pretty thick cord, huh? Well I have seen my share of this thick cord rupturing in both the athletic and non-athletic population…causing the person to no longer be able to walk. And unfortunately, surgery is inevitable.

When an Achilles tendon ruptures it actually looks quite frayed…just like the ends of a mop. Sorry I don’t mean to gross anyone out!

And so this is what I observed during this procedure. In this particular case, the surgeon first tried to repair the torn frayed ends of the tendon and re-attach them by suturing them together.

Once he completed this…he tested his repair. (FYI…the patient was still under anesthesia) He forced the ankle into a dorsi-flexed position which stretches and increases the tension of the Achilles tendon.

The surgeon tested the reliability…the trustworthiness…the strength of his repair.

And guess what? It failed! The repaired tendon did not hold together! It tore apart again!

So plan B was put into action and another tendon from the lower leg called the plantaris was removed and used to interweave throughout the frayed ends to repair the Achilles tendon.

After this 2nd repair attempt… the surgeon again tested the reliability…the trustworthiness…the strength of his repair…and guess what? It worked!

The physician was now confident that this repair would hold strong and allow the patient to eventually return to their sport and normal activity after rehabilitation.

If the physician did not test the integrity of his repair…he would not know whether it was reliable…He would not know whether it could be trusted…He would not know its strength.

Sounds a lot like our faith as Christians… doesn’t it?

Ok yeah…there are some parallels here…

In this analogy…there is a physician. As Christians…we know our God is the Great Physician… (not really my point here)

In this analogy…an Achilles tendon is tested. As Christians…our faith is tested. Hmmm…Did you hear that?

As Christians…our faith is tested…hands down…100%….whether we like it or not!

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. James 1:3 NLT

Note: This verse says when…not if your faith is tested!

A good reminder! There is no getting around our faith being tested…just like some of us trying to get around taking a test in school while growing up!

Our faith is tested!

Where does your faith stand today? Is your faith tested today? What is testing your faith?

Are you stressed that you can’t pay your bills?

Are you shaken by a bad doctor’s report?

Are you facing challenges in a relationship…such as your marriage or with another loved one?

Are you tired and frustrated with parenting your children?

Are you overwhelmed with worry?

This list can certainly go on…

The question here…however…is not whether or not your faith is tested (because clearly it is!)

But the question you may have is…Why? Why is your faith tested?

The purpose of these troubles is to test your faith as fire tests how genuine gold is. Your faith is more precious than gold, and by passing the test, it gives praise, glory, and honor to God. This will happen when Jesus Christ appears again. 1 Peter 1:7 GWT

Because just as with anything in life…how do you know how reliable something is….how trustworthy something is …how strong something is…if it is not tested? …Just like the surgeon tested his Achilles tendon repair.

Untested faith is unreliable faith!

I am not quite sure who first coined this phrase…but such biblical preachers and teachers as Charles Stanley and Kay Warren have used this term in their teachings.

Perhaps their statements have stemmed from the well-known preacher and powerful author…Charles Spurgeon who said…

Untested faith may be true faith, but it is sure to be small faith…and it is likely to remain little as long as it is without trials.

Spurgeon goes on to say…

Tested faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own weakness if you had not been compelled to pass through the rivers; and you would never have known God’s strength if you had not been supported in the flood. Faith increases in quality, assurance, and intensity the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and its trial [test] is precious too.

What good is untested faith? Untested faith is unreliable faith! You can’t rely on it…you can’t trust it…you can’t depend on it.

How reliable is your faith today?

You won’t know until it is tested.

“Tested” is defined as “subjected to a means by which the presence, quality, or genuineness of anything is determined; subjected to a means of a trial.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way. James 1:2-4 MSG

When you are under pressure and your faith is tested…your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.

Yeah probably not what any of us want to hear…But check out the scripture that comes right after! Our faith tested is a good thing…in order for our faith to grow!

So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way. James 1:3 MSG

Check out these other bible translations for James 1:3…

Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. NIV For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. NLT For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. ESV Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. KJB

Perseverance…Endurance…Patience…Steadfastness are all produced when our faith is tested. And as a result…our faith becomes reliable…trustworthy…and strong. Our faith grows!

When you find your faith being tested…turn to the Lord in whom your faith rests.

When you are stressed that you can’t pay your bills? Remember JEHOVAH-JIREH (Genesis 22:13-14)…meaning “The Lord will provide”

When you are shaken by a bad doctor’s report? Remember JEHOVAH-RAPHA (Exodus 15:26)…meaning “The Lord our healer”

When you are you facing challenges in a relationship…such as your marriage or with another loved one? Remember EL-SHADDAI (Genesis 17:1, Psalm 91:1)…meaning “The God of the mountains or God Almighty”

When you are tired and frustrated with parenting your children? Remember EL-ROI (Genesis 16:13)…meaning “The strong one who sees”

When you are overwhelmed with worry? Remember JEHOVAH-SHALOM (Judges 6:24)…meaning “The Lord is peace”

And most importantly remember…

Your faith is more precious than gold, and by passing the test, it gives praise, glory, and honor to God. 1 Peter 1:7

So when your faith is tested through your finances…health…relationships…loss of a loved one…or another life circumstance, is your faith reliable? …Will it hold together? …Or is it unreliable and fall apart like the first Achilles tendon repair the surgeon attempted?

When your faith is tested…will it pass the test? As 1 Peter 1:7 states…Will it pass the test and give praise, glory, and honor to God?

Untested faith is unreliable faith….BUT tested faith is reliable faith! And in the words of Charles Spurgeon…

Tested faith brings experience. Faith increases in quality, assurance, and intensity the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and its trial [test] is precious too.

Reflection Points:

  1. Where does your faith stand today? Is your faith tested today?
  2. What is testing your faith?
  3. What good is an untested faith? How reliable is your faith today?
  4. What is the produced when our faith is tested?
  5. What is the final result of our faith being tested?
  6. What should we do when our faith is tested?

Action Points:

  1. Determine if your faith is currently being tested…or reflect on a time when your faith seemed to be tested.
  2. Understand that the Bible says when our faith is tested…not if. Our faith will be tested!
  3. God allows our faith to be tested and challenged though life circumstances, in order for our faith to show reliability…trustworthiness…and strength.
  4. When our faith is tested, it grows stronger…it produces perseverance…endurance…patience…and steadfastness. The final result is reliable faith.
  5. When our faith is tested, turn to the Lord in whom your faith rests. Pray…spend time with Him to encourage you and help you get through the test. You will make it through!

 

Idol Worship?

What comes to mind when you see or hear the word “idol”?

The popular TV show “American Idol”?

A physical statue that is bowed down to and worshipped?

The popular 80’s icon Billy Idol? …Ok I just aged myself!

A teen heartthrob or Disney character that you were obsessed and infatuated with as a child?

A person of influence in society who you greatly admire and love… ie. a sports figure…an actor…a political or religious figure?

The dictionary defines idol as “a material object, like a carved image, that is worshipped as a god; a false god; a person who is revered, admired, or highly loved; excessive adoration or devotion.”

This is very commonly the way we understand and comprehend the meaning of the word idol in our society.

As Christians… one of the most obvious references to this term idol in the Bible is as the second commandment listed in the Ten Commandments when God instructs…

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

And we can see…as we read further…that our God is a jealous God and He sure isn’t messing around when He commands us not to worship any other god but Him!

3 You must not have any other god but me. 4 You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. 5 You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. Exodus 20:3-5 NLT

Ok a bit harsh? You think?

Funny how in our society this term idol doesn’t seem so bad…I mean what’s wrong with watching and voting for our next American Idol…or having a teenage crush on Kirk Cameron or Ricky Schroder? Ok…did I just age myself AGAIN?!

Well, there may be nothing wrong…but let’s examine further and go deeper into this idea of idolatry.

Many of the Old Testament commands against idolatry refer specifically to physical idols…idols that the pagan nations surrounding the Israelites worshipped.

Because idol worship was such a threat to the Israelites’ purity, God even instructed His people to destroy the pagan nations they conquered and to refrain from intermarrying (Deuteronomy 7:1-5). In addition, they were to destroy the places that these pagan nations built to worship false gods.

Unfortunately, the Israelites did not always follow God’s commands…and as a result…they fell into the trap of worshipping physical idols…even creating one of their own! (Exodus 32).

These man-made physical idols were constructed of wood or stone (Deuteronomy 4:28) and oftentimes were described as not having the ability to see or hear. These gods were impotent.

Some religions still use physical idols or icons…perhaps as an image of a god they believe to be elsewhere.

However, biblically, we know that those other gods do not exist. There is only One God! (1Timothy 2:5).

Even though we don’t necessarily bow down to physical images of false gods…idolatry…aka idol worship… among Christians…is still present today.

How is this so?

Idolatry…or idol worship…is worship of anything other than God. It is anything that takes the place of God in our lives.

What exactly does this mean?

Check out what these pastors have to say about idolatry!

Idolatry is anything which causes us to think less of God. (paraphrased) John MacArthur (pastor/author)

Whatever you love most, serve most, seek out most, give to the most, worship the most, and care about the most is your god. Your “god” can be your career, your bank account, the way you look, a particular position or degree, influence, power, or physical pleasure. It can even be something that is considered intrinsically good, yet you allow it to dominate your life more than God. Your “god” is whatever you allow to control you, to be the ultimate guide to decision making, the place of your supreme loyalty, and the source of your self-worth. James Emory White (pastor/author)

Could it be that desire for a good thing has become a bad thing because that desire has become a ruling thing? Paul Tripp (preacher/ author)

So what exactly can be an idol…or considered idol worship…in our lives?

An idol can be such things as pride…money…popularity…body image…even hobbies.

An idol can be our home…our vehicle…our job…material possessions…a relationship…even our family.

An idol can be a computer…what we look at on our computers…even social media.

An idol can be power…influence…tradition…religion…status…position…control…even success.

An idol can be our own goals…own ideas…own purposes…own accomplishments…even self.

An idol can be alcohol…drugs…sex…or any sin.

An idol can even be all the work you do for the Lord that consumes all your time and energy.

Some of these things may in themselves not be bad. We need money in order to live (Matthew 6:31-33)…caring for our bodies is appropriate (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)…God is a giver of good gifts and so we can take delight in the hobbies He has given us (James 1:17; Psalm 37:4).

However, when we begin to value something above God…when we love something more than we love God…when we expect that thing to fulfill us and provide us with ultimate satisfaction…we have begun making it into an idol.

God alone is sufficient for all our needs! (Philippians 4:19) The other things are gifts…not gods.

Do you have any idols in your life? Think about it…

What do you treasure and value and desire most? …God wants to be our treasure, since He treasures us most. (Matthew 6:21)

What do you seek after or pursue most?  …God wants us to pursue and seek Him first. (Proverbs 21:21, Matthew 6:33)

What takes most of your time & focus & energy? …God wants us to set our heart and mind on Him and His kingdom. (Colossians 3:1-5)

What do you put your trust in?  …God wants us to trust in Him with all our heart. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

What do you think will satisfy and fulfill you? …God wants to give us abundant life & fully fill and satisfy our heart and soul. (Isaiah 55:1-3; Psalm 63:1-5; Psalm 81; John 10:10)

What are some things you are not willing to let go of?  We need to be willing to love and follow Jesus, whatever the cost! (Philippians 3:7-9)

Why do you do the things you do?  …Our motives should be love for God and love for others. (I Chronicles 28:9; Matthew 22:37-40; 2 Corinthians 5:9)

So what if we have a few idols in our lives? Check this out…Idols can and will…

1. Disappoint You   

Idols always promise more than they can deliver.

Those who make idols are disillusioned because the gods they made are false and lifeless. Jeremiah 10:14 GNB

 Anytime you put an expectation in something or someone other than God…you will disappointed.

2. Dominate You 

Idols can dominate you and control you.

Before you knew Christ you were controlled by dead idols, who always led you astray. 1Corinthians 12:2 GN

Keys words…controlled and always led astray.

When we focus and are concerned with people and things so much, it will consume us and we actually become controlled by it. As a result…we are led astray…away from God.

3. Deform You

Idols can deform you…change you. 

Those who make idols become like them and so will those who trust in them. Psalm 115:8 GN

We shape an idol and then it shapes us. We become what we value most.

Self-examine your life today and determine if you have any idols or if there is something that has the potential to become an idol in your life. Pray and repent and ask God to help you bring that person, idea, or thing down as an idol. Pray for the Lord to strengthen you in your faith and trust in Him.

Jesus wants to be your first love…since you are His first love! He wants to be the center of your life and fully satisfy you! …Nothing else! He alone is sufficient to meet all your needs! Every single one of them!

Trust Him today and give Him back His rightful place in your life…First Place!

Reflection Points:

  1. What comes to mind when you see or hear the word “idol”?
  2. What can be an idol…or considered idol worship…in our lives?
  3. What does God say about having idols in our lives?
  4. Do you have any idols in your life?
  5. What negative consequences can result from having idols in your life?         

Action Points:

  1. Even though we may have the perception from the Bible that idols are physical images and statues that pagan nations used to worship…which certainly is true…we do need to go deeper to understand that idolatry…or idol worship…is worship of anything other than God. It is anything that takes the place of God in our lives.
  2. Self-examine your life today and determine if you have any idols or if there is something that has the potential to become an idol in your life.
  3. Ask yourself if it has been placed in higher value than God or even taken the place of God in your life.
  4. Determine if this person or thing has disappointed you…dominated you…or deformed you.
  5. Pray and repent and ask God to help you bring that person, idea, or thing down as an idol and to free you from it controlling you. Pray for the Lord to strengthen you in your faith and trust in Him.
  6. Take steps to make Christ the center of your life. Pray and read God’s word daily to keep your focus and Him in the right place.

A New Year…A New Thing!

The sign said “Under Construction.” I recently passed by an old house…and it was clearly “under construction.”

There were a number of construction trucks and workers surrounding this home. Because my 6 year old son is in love with construction trucks, we stopped and parked alongside the curb and watched for a few moments.

This particular construction site was different than other construction sites we have visited…which usually had a new structure built from ground up on a piece of barren land. This house was evidently being “renovated”…And so in other words, it was being “made new.”

As I watched this house being “made new” …I quickly noticed 2 things that seemed to slow down this “under construction’ process.

First of all…before new walls could be erected, the old walls needed to be torn down. And secondly… as I focused more closely…I also noticed that electricians were hard at work de-tangling and removing old electrical wires before further construction could resume.

Watching this house “under construction”, I began to think about how we as Christians are “under construction’ as well…we are spiritually “under construction”…throughout our entire lives really…aren’t we?

The Bible says that even though we are made “perfect” in Christ…we are not yet “finished.”

Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Colossians 1:28 KJV

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6 NLT

FYI…being made “perfect” in Christ means we are made complete…mature. Not the commonly used meaning for “perfect” as pure…flawless. Because really only Christ is and can be “perfect” according to the latter definition. (A difficult concept to accept if you tend to be a perfectionist like me!)

So it’s the beginning of another New Year! …And that means new beginnings…new goals…new outlooks…new hope…new commitments…and how can we forget…new resolutions!

It’s a New Year…and God wants to do a New Thing in our life!

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 42:19 NIV

God wants to do a new thing in our life…but just as this house had a few things that slowed down the “under construction” process…so too it may be as we are spiritually “under construction” as well.

Just like the old walls needed to be torn down in order to build new walls… we too need to tear down…bring down…let go of our past which can enslave us and keep us from moving forward into the new things God has for us.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. Isaiah 42:18 NIV

Just like the old wires needed to be de-tangled and removed…we too need to remove the sin that can entangle us and slow us down from obtaining and accomplishing the new things God has for us.

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…Hebrews 12:1 NIV

Check this out! It certainly isn’t coincidental that the scripture Isaiah 42:18 about forgetting the former things and not dwelling on the past precedes verse 19 when God says that he is doing a new thing!

God wants to do a new thing in our life…but we have a few things to self-examine and do first!

To gain a better perspective of these 2 concepts…check out their definitions.

Enslavement- the state of being strongly influenced and controlled by something; the condition of being under the domination of another person or some habit or influence

Entanglement-the condition of being lured into a compromising act; the state of being ensnared; entrapment

Enslavement and entanglement can slow us down…even hinder us…from seeing God do a new thing in our life.

Have you ever tried to run forward while looking back the entire time? I guarantee that looking back will hinder you from moving forward!

Have you ever tried to run forward while being tangled and twisted up in something? I guarantee that being tangled up in something will slow you down!

Whether we are enslaved to our past….past failures…past mistakes…past hurts…past regrets…old ways…old thoughts…

Whether we are entangled in sin…blatant obvious sins (lying, anger, pride, sexual impurity, etc.)…subtle sins (gossip, unforgiveness, bad attitudes, harsh verbal tone, negative critical thoughts, etc.)…

We have a choice!

A choice to let go…or be enslaved to our past.

A choice to obey…or be entangled by sin.

Are there any areas of enslavement in your life you need to let go of?

Are there any areas of entanglement in your life you need to remove?

Just as the old house is “under construction” and being made new…we are spiritually “under construction” everyday…And by the choices we make …the spiritual construction process can be hindered or can move along more smoothly.

It’s a New Year…and God wants to do a New Thing in your life!

And so whether your New Year’s resolutions include these concepts or not, we have a choice to let go…or not…a choice to obey God…or not. Either way, being spiritually “under construction” cannot be avoided.

We are “under construction” our entire lives as God shapes us…molds us…refines us…and makes us complete. We are “under construction” so that we can look more and more like Christ!

So as we enter the New Year…let’s examine our life as Christians and see what we can do differently or change…let’s purposefully make those changes and remove anything that slows down or hinders our relationship with God…and let’s watch God do a new thing in our life!

I wish you all Happy New Year! I appreciate you all supporting Sweeter Than Honey Blog and look forward to an amazing 2015!

Reflection Points:

  1. Can you see how we are spiritually “under construction” …our entire lives?
  2. Do you understand that even though we are spiritually “under construction” that God wants to do a new thing in our life? Isaiah 42:19
  3. Do you understand what being enslaved to your past and being entangled by sin means? And how these 2 things can slow down and hinder you from obtaining and accomplishing the new things that God wants to do in your life?
  4. Are there any areas of enslavement in your life you need to let go of? Are there any areas of entanglement in your life you need to remove?
  5. What can you do differently or change in your life so that you will not be slowed down or hindered?

Action Points:

  1. We are spiritually “under construction” and will be our entire life because we were created in the image of God and God wants to shape us…mold us…refine us…and makes us complete…so we look more like Him! That’s a good thing!
  2. God wants to do a new thing in your life. Pray and ask God to show you any areas of enslavement or entanglement in your life. Psalm 139:23-24
  3. If you recognize anything you need to let go of in your past…pray and ask God to give you the courage and strength to move forward.
  4. If you recognize any sin that needs to stop and be removed…pray and ask for God’s forgiveness and strength to please Him and be obedient to God’s Word.
  5. Seek out help from other Christian women who can pray with you…support you…and offer encouragement! We weren’t created to live our Christian life alone!