Monday, July 30, 2012

Spiritual Insanity?

Some have said the definition of insanity is to continue doing the same things repeatedly, while expecting different results. I wonder sometimes if some of us—myself included—suffer from "spiritual insanity"; we continue living our lives as always, yet wonder why things never change in our spiritual relationship. 

In order for things to change in our spiritual relationship, we've got to make some changes in our natural man. The life that never prays, never studies the Word, and/or doesn't know how to bring its carnal nature into submission, can't expect to walk in the realms of the Spirit.

Frustrated because you're still struggling with carnality and temptation? Walk in the Spirit. (Gal. 5:16)

Flee These Things...

The apostle Paul spoke in his letters of 4 things that the child of God should "flee" from: (1) fornication (2) idolatry (3) desire for money or temporal possessions, and (4) youthful lusts. 

As Spirit-filled people of God, we have been given the power to overcome these things, and God's Spirit does give us the victory over every carnal temptation. However, Paul's admonition is to run away from some things, rather than try to face them down, even when armed with the Holy Spirit. If you're struggling with some battles, maybe you should consider Paul's admonition to avoid those particular things, rather than hoping to conquer them.

Some battles are better off avoided, rather than being fought. You can win, but is it worth the scars?

Friday, July 27, 2012

So You Suffer From "Low Self-Esteem"...

I struggled with the balance between "pride" and "self-esteem" for years, until I actually read what the apostle Paul said: "Let no man think more highly of himself THAN HE OUGHT TO THINK, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem other better than himself."

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being confident in who you are, and who God has called you to be. The secret is to not allow that confidence to become disproportionate, for then it becomes pride. Consider those around you to be your equal—even better than yourself (that will certainly keep you from elevating "self" too highly)—but never, ever sell yourself short, or rob God of the value He has placed on you.

Low self-esteem is the result of not having a complete understanding of how God sees you. When God looks at you, He doesn't see a "loser", or someone who's too short, too tall, too thin, too fat, someone who wears glasses (my own Achilles' heel when it comes to self-esteem), or has freckles, a double-chin, a big nose, big ears, etc.

In short, God does not see you as a loser, a failure, inept, awkward, or out of place!

When God looks at you, you know what He sees? He sees His creation: the work of His own Hands. He looks at you and thinks, "That is a work that I designed, that I created; I breathed life into them. They carry a part of me in them; they have my DNA. That is MY creation!"

Be honest: have you ever seen a newborn that was just...well...homely? They're not the prettiest things to look at, but you'd never convince the parents; that is their offspring, a part of them, something THEY created, and they're as proud as ever a person can be when they show that baby off to the rest of the world. You're a child of God—YOU ARE HIS DESIGN!—and He is only too proud to look at you and call you His Own Design.

Walk with your head up today, not because you're "just that good", but because you recognize that you are a product of God's own Hands, His own breath, and He is proud of His Creation when He looks at you!

Are You Listening?

One of my favorite passages in Scripture—and certainly one of the most telling stories—involves the time where Jesus stopped by the house of Martha and Mary. The scriptures tell us that "Martha was cumbered about much serving..." (KJV) but Mary "sat at His feet and heard His word." 

Much can be said about the contrast between Martha and Mary, and Martha's attitude about the whole situation (and perhaps I'll write about that on another occasion) but what I felt in my spirit recently was a strong emphasis on Mary's position: she "sat at His feet and heard His word."

Understand that Mary's position was a bit awkward, to begin with, as women were generally excluded from the "men's meetings" that were common in that time among rabbi and disciples. For Mary to even find a place at His feet, she had to first overcome the stigma of being an uninvited, unwelcome guest. Unlike another uninvited woman (Mark ch. 5) who pressed her way against a crowd because she needed a supernatural healing, Mary had no ulterior motive, no pressing need to compel her to go against the grain and do what was considered "out of place" in that time. Her only reason for going against the grain was to hear what Jesus was saying.

Many of us have no problem sitting at His feet; it's the "hearing His words" that gets to be a problem. Often, we want to find a place near Him, but for all the wrong reasons; we're not listening to what HE has to teach us, but we're trying to argue our case, bend His ear, let Him know everything that it seems He's overlooked about our life. "By the way, Lord, just wanted you to know that I'm right here! In case You forgot where you placed me, I'd like to remind you that I'm still stuck here in this same old dumpy spot that I've been in..." 

No, most of us have absolutely no problem finding a place at His feet, but hearing what He's trying to tell us is what is difficult. Why? Because we have to shut up and listen, and for most humans, that is hard to do...especially when circumstances aren't the best. I'll confess that I'm guilty of going to prayer on many occasions, not so I can listen to Him, but so that—hopefully—He'll listen to me! Listen to me whine, complain, grumble, ask for this, ask for that, etc etc.

Recently, I distinctly felt the Lord speak into my heart and tell me, "I'm really not giving you the 'silent treatment', like you've thought; it's just that you're not listening to Me." about a gentle reprimand. Those were the words of a Father who loves me, but recognizes that, if I don't sit down and listen to Him, I'll never learn what He's trying to teach me. Did I feel chastised, humiliated, embarrassed, resentful? Not on your life! I felt a depth of Love that I've seldom felt, even in my times of deep, heartfelt prayer. 

God isn't asking you to listen because He likes the sound of His own voice. He is Wisdom, and He is Truth, and He is Life, and His words bring healing, deliverance, peace, joy, and strength. Just as a father teaches wants to teach his children well in advance about some of the life lesson's he's learned, so also your Heavenly Father wants to prepare you for what's ahead. Maybe He wants to speak peace to your storm; maybe He wants to speak life into you, and call you out of the grave you've dug for yourself. 

Whatever the occasion, you can rest assured that Mary had a reason for sitting at Jesus' feet, and that reason wasn't to argue with Him about her lot in life. It was to listen to Him speak.

Prayer is intended to be a two-way conversation between you and God. Find your place at His feet...and just listen.