THE PAIN OF HELPLESSNESS…

Spiritual Blog - Possible

2 Corinthians 1:8 – “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.”  NKJV

             I have experienced some incredibly traumatic things in life including the loss of someone dear in tragedy, abandonment to the point I despaired of life and the pronouncement that I had a malignancy.  The experiences like those mentioned were incredibly painful and distressing but I know of no pain more debilitating than the feeling of helplessness. 

I have watched my children face struggles that I could not step in and resolve and for a man who was raised to fend for himself, face difficulties head on and handle whatever came your way HELPLESSNESS is murderous.  You see the problem and know that within yourself you can do nothing.  It is outside your ability, authority or power.  It is not dependent on what you do or do not do and may rest in the hands of others whom you cannot control.

Helplessness is as much a state of mind as anything and it finds its roots in FEAR and TRUST or the lack of trust.  In the state of mind that says, “Nothing I do will make a difference” is not only paralyzing it can be destructive.  It can and often does destroy relationships and faith.  It stems from the idea that we, as individuals, must be in control and are the captains of our own ship and masters of our own fate.  It, at its core, denies God although the person in that state of mind may be devout in their belief in God.  It views life through the prism of self and becomes incapable of looking beyond themselves.

Helplessness is a continual spiral downward into the abyss of hopelessness.  If we find ourselves in a state of feeling helpless and hopeless we have choices.  We can continue our focus on self and circumstances and revel in the helplessness and hopelessness of the situation or condition or we can look beyond ourselves.  I would contend that if we envision another can rectify our situation we are not in a state of helplessness.  It is when we see no solution from our own ability or any outside source that HELPLESSNESS reigns.  It is from that sense of helplessness that we become hopeless and despair of life.  NO HOPE!   NO HELP!  Total despair rules.

It is when we look beyond ourselves or others and realize that with God NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE that helplessness and hopelessness begins to melt away from our minds.  Our pathway to deliverance and victory may be tiny baby steps but the light at the end of the tunnel gradually transforms from a faint candle flicker to a brilliant flood light.  Hope begins to rise within and that hope dispels the sense of helplessness.

The Serenity Prayer is applicable especially when our confidence is directed to the LORD our God:

            “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I                can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Helplessness is a condition where we see ourselves as the final source of a solution.  Hopefulness is where we see God as the final source of a solution.  In a time of helplessness we can either become hopeless or hopeful depending on where our look is focused.  Psalm 121:1-2 gives the solution, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills from whence comes my help?  My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”

I pray that God HELP you to be free of HELPLESSNESS and walk in HOPEFULNESS the remainder of your days!    God bless you as you go through this day!

LOVE – The Danger of Poisonous Love…

Spiritual Blog - Poison

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 – “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  NKJV

  

In the English we have a significant language problem and the word LOVE is no exception.  The word, in the English language, has evolved to mean a myriad of things and many not remotely connected to the Bible word for LOVE.

The chief word LOVE in the New Testament is AGAPE and has no real English translation.  The word we must most of the time is more akin to the Greek word “Eros” which is largely foreign to the New Testament directive.  In the writing of the New Testament the Holy Spirit drew a word out of obscurity a word that most Greeks barely knew what it meant.  The New Testament brings us the definition of AGAPE.

The definition is incredibly simple and is found in 1 John 4:8 – “God is AGAPE!”  Many believers like the word Agape but have little real knowledge of its meaning and impact.  Most of the time when we speak of love it is by the human definition.  This Love that Paul is referring to is the God kind of Love or the God quality of Love.  Remember Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.”  

This chapter is more than amazing.  Most Christians know this and many know it by heart and can quote it readily but it has virtually no impact on multitudes.  It is nothing more than words to place a balm on our consciences rather than transform our lives.  In verse 3 the apostle declares, “…if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have AGAPE it profits nothing.”  Hear that please.  You can become a martyr for God or the Christian faith and if you do not have AGAPE it is nothing!

What is a martyr?  Someone who is willing, because of what they believe regarding God and the meaning of life, to die.  He or she is willing to die for that belief.  But let’s take it a step further, because AGAPE has to do with relationships with people.  In a very real sense, AGAPE has nothing to do with me loving God but me loving people.  Therefore the entire chapter is about you or me loving AGAPE People.  That screams to me, “It is not what a person does that counts it is the source from which it comes.” 

If we are going to find, experience and manifest REAL LOVE then we must understand what real love is.  God is Love!   God does not just have love HE IS LOVE.  This is not what God has but what God is.  Additionally, Love is of God.  It issues forth from God for there can be no AGAPE outside God for He is the source!  If man is severed from God, what is he left with?  The stuff he is mad of – Flesh!  There is a hole in his heart. There is an emptiness or lack in his makeup.  Man has a longing for love and to be loved.

            God bless you as you go through this day!

BECOMING A VICTIM…

spiritual blog - bitterness

Ephesians 4:29-5:2 – “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. 

5:1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”  NKJV

I believe that one of the key sources or roots for a person developing a Victim Mentality is BITTERNESS.  Many harbor resentment do deeply that it dominates their lives.  The question is why do we replay the hurt over and over in our minds reliving the old wounds?  It is because we go back to The Lie, “you shall be as God.”

What does God do?  He is in control.  Therefore, if we believe that we are like God then we envision ourselves as being in control.  If we are in control then we are in charge of the punishment to be meted out to the ones who hurt us.  They can never be set free because we are determined to eventually make them hurt like they hurt us or maybe even more.

We lock the door to our lives and then attempt to influence as many others to lock the offender out as well.  In fact, it can escalate to the point that we want them eradicated from the human race declaring them that despicable.  WHY?  We have become a Victim.  If they had not said or done what they did I would not be an addict, alcoholic, abandoned, economically or socially deficient.  It was or is their fault!  Because of them I have been living in Hell and now I’m going to send them there as well.  The pain is real and incredible for the Victim.

If I could somehow get everyone to realize that no human being can make them do anything they could be free.  It is a choice.  He or she makes me so mad!  No, we choose to become angry.  But, you are a Victim because you were injured.  They did it to me so do not ask me to forgive them THEY ARE WRONG!  The victim chooses to remember and by holding on to it he/she believes they can guarantee it will never happen again.  The wall is erected and the list of offenders denied access grows almost daily.

Some never forgive because they do not understand forgiveness.  They think if they forgive the offender they will be hurt again and become a doormat.  But what is forgiveness?  It is not calling a truce, admitting defeat, letting evil win or saying let’s just forget it.  Have you ever had someone who hurt you come and apologize and you say, “Oh, it was nothing”?  That is not the truth and you know it!  IT HURT and was far more than nothing!  Some have the mistaken idea that if they do not admit it hurt it doesn’t exist but if you will not or cannot admit the pain you cannot forgive.

Forgiveness is never condoning.  We are often told we must forgive but rarely are we told how to forgive.  We are told the why behind forgiveness but not the how.  We hear that we must forgive because Christ has forgiven us and if we do not forgive we will not be forgiven.  True, but how do we forgive?  In a great sense we consciously and determined ‘release the offender.’

What does God do?  He takes the initiative and comes to us.  The one that we sinned against comes and takes our place.  He chooses to bear all our guilt, grief and sorrow.  He pays our debt with His own blood.  Then He rises from the dead and extends a full pardon to us.  We are Free!  Remember the workers hired at different times of the day?  As the owner of the vineyard began to hand out the pay he began with those who worked least and paid them but as he worked through to those who had worked all day he paid the same wage and they were irate.  Not fair was the cry!  Exactly, Life is not fair and we should be glad God is not focused on fairness but mercy, for if He were we would have something quite other than salvation and pardon.

What do we do?  We REPENT.  We surrender and receive His grace.  There is no discussion of the past.  The key is that we are to forgive “just as” God has forgiven us.  We must BE that which He has made us.  Be kind.  Be tenderhearted. Be forgiving.  Be someone who dishes out grace.  It changes the entire attitude and moves us from being victims to victors.  Therefore, you take BITTERNESS and get rid of it.  You banish it from your life.  You hold it up to the light of God’s Grace and begin learning a lifestyle of forgiveness.  You will repeat it over and over again for a long time, most likely.  It will become who you are and then your actions and attitude will reflect His Forgiveness and become Forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not divine amnesia and we forgive by faith!  We choose to not lay their sin to their charge and release them.   May the Lord be with you guarding and guiding you through this day!

UNDERSTANDING GRACE…

Spiritual Blog - Grace

Ephesians 4:29-5:2 – “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. 

5:1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”  NKJV

 

I never cease to be amazed at how many followers of our LORD view and understand Grace.  Some even seem to feel that since God has been ‘gracious’ to them in extending his pardon and mercy resulting in the New Birth they are now free to sin.  I find that utter foolishness.  Religion has It’s Law and That Law says, as long as you behave or keep the rules I’m satisfied.

Religious Law deals with my behavior.  I may hate my behavior but I continue to do it so we strive to LOOK like good Christians and adjust our masks so that other Christians think we are good Christians.  That is performance orientation and is like lipstick on a pig altering the appearance does not change the truth.

Grace, on the other hand does not make its focus behavior it focuses on The Heart.  It deals with your “want to.”  It addresses where you want to be who you are and begins the process of change.  THEN, when you are changed your behavior changes!  No masks simply an expression of who you really are!  You BECOME!

That is what the apostle is addressing when he says, “The Grace of God has come to you.”  It has invaded you.  It is on the inside of you.  Now, let it have its perfect work and begin to transform you so that you can BE who you ARE in Christ.  The Grace of God that brings salvation has reached down to the pit we were in, lifted us up and transformed us.  In that sense Salvation is happening every day for we are becoming as He is.

Salvation means wholeness and implies perfect health.  So this salvation that is brought to us by the Grace of God makes us HEALTHY.  Of course I speak of more than any physical healing but spiritual.  I have learned that physical maladies are often less problematic than our spiritually mental sickness.  I am not talking about the classic mental illness we hear much about but a spiritual condition in which we are sick in our thinking and feelings.

Paul says we are to PUT AWAY malice, bitterness, anger, wrath, and all evil speaking.  He is speaking as a physician would when identifying the need for radical surgery.  If we are to be healthy it must begin on the inside.  It is then we are able to radiate the health of Christ spiritually in our outward actions and appearance.  We will radiate God’s Life!

He tells us to PUT AWAY and there is emphasis that this is something we are to be deeply involved in.  I have some tell me that they are praying God will deliver them from those things and I always address the need for them to PUT AWAY not simply seeking to PRAY AWAY those things.  I emphasize that the process begins on the inside and it is a heart problem not action problem.

WHAT DO WE HAVE TO PUT AWAY?

BITTERNESS.  Putting away bitterness is not just addressing it once and it is done.  Bitterness is a way of being!  It is a kind a spiritual cancer that has gotten so deep inside our person that our spirit is infected.  It is a state of being and is constant although we are not always conscience of it.  It affects how we see people and things.  ALL people, ALL things ALL the time!  The root of bitterness did not happen overnight and it is something that we may have dragged in from the old life.  It does not matter what it was it MUST GO!  It is a poison that courses through your being and defiles.  Bitterness doesn’t just get in your heart and mind it spreads to your tongue as well.

WRATH.  This is where we fly off the handle and it is clearly rage.  It is like an explosion and it burns deep within from BITTERNESS.  Then there is ANGER and while it is akin to Bitterness the person tries to hide or denies it.  You can see by their facial expressions and body language they are angry but they’re nice people.  They keep it bottled up inside. Then we come to CLAMOR which is uncontrolled shouting where there is no control over the tongue.  Next EVIL SPEAKING where one deliberately seeks to hurt another.  In the Greek it means blasphemy.  (You blaspheme God when you talk about someone made in His image with the design and desire to do them harm).  Also we find MALICE which is a settled determination to hurt others or get even.  Paul says through the Holy Spirit PUT IT AWAY!

May God convict us and help us to BECOME who we are in Him.   God bless you as you go through this day!

CHRISTIANITY KNOWS NOTHING OF A VICTIM MENTALITY…

Spiritual Blog - Victor

Ephesians 4:29-5:2 – “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. 

5:1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”  NKJV

So much of our modern world including those in the church have developed a victim mentality.  That phenomenon has been to the detriment of both society and the church and is foreign to Christ and Christianity.  You may have been victimized but you should never be a victim.

When I come to the text for this devotional I reflect back on what Paul has been talking about, the New Birth.  He has been talking about leaving the old world, old way and the old man behind.  Everything that belongs to sin and the race of Adam has been taken out of the way.  Something happened and we have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness (this world) into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.  We have a New Self, are a New Man or a New Creation.  We have been ‘re-birthed’.  Therefore, it is imperative that we learn to live out our New Life in Christ.  We need to BECOME the people the Bible says we really are!

This point in our lives (New Birth) is a time of crisis.  Most acknowledge that but tragically too many of those who profess Christ continue to emphasize and focus on that crisis the remainder of their days on earth.  We sing about the crisis and go to church to hear about and discuss the crisis.  In so doing, I believe, we have missed an important truth in the Gospel.

The New Testament is not about the crisis it is about being taken out of the crisis and the process of becoming who God says we are.  Now that we are saved and have passed from death to life we need to BECOME.  We are no longer who or what we were for we are New Creations in and through Jesus.  Now is the time to begin the process of allowing that Newness to invade every dimension of our lives.  We have been re-birthed and now it is time to become!

In all honesty, many that I talk to about Christ and Salvation seem to have everything in reverse.  I’ve had countless people say, “Let me shape up and then…”  They seem to feel that if they somehow turn over a new leaf, change, try harder THEN they can be accepted.  Got receives us and once He has received us we are accepted.  In that state of acceptance God says, “Now let’s change you!  Let’s help you BECOME…

Spiritual Blog Transformed

THE CHANGE SEEN IN OUR TEXT:

He says there are some areas in our lives that must change:  Bitterness, malice, evil speaking, anger and anger we are to PUT AWAY.  Then he tells us we are to BE… Kind to one another, tenderhearted and forgiving.  We are IN CHRIST, pardoned and have been given righteousness so now it is time to start working and walking that out in our lives.  It is not someday in heaven we are going to BE it is NOW.

We were in and of the world which is a part of THE LIE that goes back to the Garden.  Man believed that he would be as God and independent of God.  NOW, we have been delivered from that realm and we must learn TRUTH and through that truth a new LIFESTYLE that is completely opposite of what we knew.  Simply we have to RELEARN LIFE.  No wonder Jesus said that we must become as little children.  We are Brand New and as a child must learn to LIVE!  Being a Christian is not adding Sunday to your schedule it is relearning how to live 24/7/365.  We are being delivered from the Bentness, Distortion and Wrong Thinking and must have our minds renewed so we can become who we are.  Victors not Victims!

            God bless you as you go through this day!

REFUGEE OR CITIZEN?

spiritual blog - darkness

Colossians 1:13-14 – “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”  NASU

We sing about being part of the REDEEMED and that we are SOJOURNERS just passing through and that is good.  However I want to highlight something for consideration regarding our status in this world and the one to come.

The work of Christ in His birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension affords something wonderful.  The King James Version says He “delivered” us from the devil’s power.  The Amplified refers to it as “delivered” from the devil’s control and the New American Standard identifies that we have been “rescued” from the Domain or Kingdom of Darkness.  All basically say the same thing but let’s take this idea or revelation and examine it briefly.

If we have been delivered or rescued from the devil’s kingdom (where we were citizens) and his power (where he manipulated us) and have been transferred into the Kingdom of God that is worthy of note.  In that single act of our LORD we have seen our status change from ‘refugee’ to ‘citizen’ of a different realm or kingdom.

In the natural, if our citizenship changes we are under the laws and governance of the new country of which we are citizens.  We have backing us the entire might of our new country and rather than holding refugee status we hold citizenship.  We may be sojourners in this present world but our citizenship is of that Eternal World of the Kingdom of God.  The title ‘god of this world’ the devil held has been rendered, null and void by the Finished Work of Jesus on the Cross and His Resurrection from the Dead.  We are here not as refugees fleeing the tyranny of the devil but as ambassadors of our new country or kingdom.

The authority through which Jesus operates is extended to us as citizens of that new kingdom and through His authority we have power and authority over all power and authority of the former ‘god of this world’.  Jesus redeemed or ‘bought back’ that which was lost and whether we accept His grace or reject it we no longer belong to the devil but to God.  Unless we accept His grace we will perish and by that act of rejection we ‘give place to the devil’ and in so doing place ourselves within his grasp.

Too many in the Body of Christ live as refugees in this present world trying to escape the devil and longing for the heavenly cavalry to arrive and rescue us.  That places us in a subordinate position rendering us powerless against the power of darkness for we fail to understand or appropriate the position afford us through Grace.  If we can understand that we have a LEGAL VICTORY in Jesus to exercise dominion and authority in this earth over all the power of the enemy we will find our lives transformed drastically.

We need to learn to enforce the Victory of Calvary and appropriate the Promises of God in this present world.  We are not refugees we are citizens of the Kingdom of God.  We are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus.  We have been given power over all the power of the enemy and our weapons are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.  We are more than conquerors through Jesus so let’s live like citizens not refugees.

            God bless as you go through this day!

THE DIRECTIVE IS CIRCUMSPECT not CIRCUS SPECTACLE…

Spiritual Blog - Circumspect

Ephesians 5:15-16 – “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”  NKJV

 

Paul gave life counsel to the Ephesians and one particularly noteworthy item was ‘how they were to walk or live.’   He gave a contrast saying ‘walk this way not this way.’  Advice it would benefit each of us to carefully consider in our daily lives.

Some live more as a Circus Spectacle than Circumspect and demonstrate an inherent bent toward foolishness and as a result are generally guilty of being time wasters rather than redeemers of that precious commodity.  Being a Christian carries with it a great responsibility in presentation before the world a life that is complimentary of our faith not one that is detrimental to our confession of faith.

Circumspect is defined as ‘watchful and discreet; cautious and prudent.’  A circumspect walk will not be one that is so outrageous that it would be more acceptable in a circus than society.  The flumadiddle that is all too often manifest needs to stop for we have a monumental task before us that is of eternal significance.  Multitudes are perishing without God and unless we learn to live in a manner that reflects our Lord and demonstrates His wisdom we limit our ability to witness to them.  If they see us more as Circus Spectacles than Circumspect we have little impact but if we manifest Him lifting Him up in our lives they will be drawn to Him.

Spiritual Blog - Watch

That by no means suggests that we are to be so solemn and serious all the time that we are viewed as fuddy duddies.  God wants us to be overflowing with the Joy of the Lord and be anointed with the oil of gladness.  I have found that people who cannot or do now laugh or even know how are often miserable and breed miserableness.  I recall once having a person, whom everyone in town knew as the hardest man around, come to me and say, “Preacher, I want what you’ve got.”  He went on to tell me that because I was frequently laughing, would tell a joke, and even when things were difficult could find a lighter side and yet incredibly serious he was interested.  He also told me that he had witnessed me shifting gears from humor to serious and knew that while I like to laugh I was deadly serious about life and he saw something in me he did not see in most.  I did not take that to mean that I was better, more spiritual or special than other dedicated believers in my community.  I took it to mean that God had used me to demonstrate a manner of life that caught this man’s attention positively.  Some in the same town did not like my way of approaching life and thought as a preacher I should be sour-faced and solemn all the time.

So if we live a life that is circumspect allowing God’s wisdom to flow through us as we redeem the time taking advantage of the opportunities set before us we will touch others positively and powerfully.  My prayer is:  “Lord help me to walk circumspectly and never let me be viewed as a circus spectacle.”

            God bless you as you go through this day!