Archive for July, 2010

Be Set Apart: Let God’s Lordship Influence Your Behaviors

July 29, 2010

Read Judges 14:1-9

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. James 1:14-16 (ESV)

Instead of living a life set apart for God, Sampson lived for himself. He refused God’s lordship, dismissed God instructions, and what began as visits to the enemy, became marriage with a woman whose family and culture worshipped a foreign god. We do the same thing when we pursue what we want, when we want it, and pay no attention to what God wants for our lives.

Sampson disregarded God’s marriage instructions (even when reminded by his parents that he was not to be yoked to an unbeliever). It’s possible that Sampson disregarded the Nazirite restriction of not touching anything dead in order to satisfy his sweet tooth with honey.

Sadly enough, Sampson’s reasoning for marrying a woman of Timnah was, “She looks good to me.” Sampson’s fleshly thinking nurtured his fleshly desires and eventually influenced his decisions and actions. Since the Garden of Eden we’ve desired things that, although they appear sweet, are dangerous. Instead of pursuing them, we need to conquer them as Sampson defeated the lion. The impact of Adam and Eve pursuing their own desires and biting into the forbidden fruit introduced evil desires into our hearts. As a result, we need to learn to distinguish evil from good. Left to our own reasoning, we will not distinguish good from evil. Choosing God’s lordship in our lives aligns us with One who is truly good. Believing His truth and following His instructions keeps us safe in God’s protective care. Remaining here we are freed from the slavery that Sampson succumbed to in following his fleshly reasoning and in pursuing his desires and plans.

What wine is your mind drinking in and what choices are you making as a result of your thoughts. Let Sampson’s life invite you to question:

  • What have I allowed to influence my thinking?
  • What have I accepted as good?
  • What beliefs are influencing my behavior and driving my actions?
Advertisements

Be Set Apart: Resist Enemy Thoughts

July 27, 2010

Read Judges 13:6-24

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

God’s covenant keeping heart doesn’t stop Him from loving or pursuing the children who have deserted Him. While the Israelites accepted enemy ways and their dominance, God refused to give them up. God sent an angel of the Lord to share with a barren woman that He would give her a child that He would strengthen and empower to begin Israel’s deliverance. This woman shares her encounter with her husband Manoah who, wanting additional details, prays for a second visit. God grants the request which ends with a dramatic climax. Manoah is terrified as a flame appears from the altar which, along with the angel of the Lord, ascends toward heaven. Seeing this, the couple fall with their faces to the ground in fear and awe. Manoah’s initial response of fearful reverence escalates to fearful hysteria as seen in his shouting, “We are doomed to die! . . . We have seen God!”

Thank goodness for a rational and reasonable wife who brings perspective to Manoah’s frenzied panic attack. This wise woman reminds her husband that God visited them because He cares about them and their nation. His intention is to deliver them, not destroy them. Lastly, since God promised to birth a deliverer through them, it doesn’t make sense that He would destroy them.

Manoah made the error of interpreting life’s happenings through the lens of fear. This resulted in distrusting the goodness of God and dismissing His promises. It’s likely that he would have fallen into despair and depression if his wife hadn’t spoken words of truth which brought God’s perspective to their situation.

Like Manoah’s wife, when facing fearful thoughts and circumstances, chose to believe and speak words of life. Bring to mind the goodness of God including His faithfulness and unending love. Reflect on God’s promises. Because Manoah’s wife trusted in God’s goodness and faithfulness, she did not accept an ancient Jewish superstition that death would result if you saw God or an angel. Her belief in the goodness of God conquered fear.

Personal Response

Satan’s enemy attacks haven’t changed much and their strategy remains the same. First is the invitation to question God’s goodness, next to distrust His Word, and lastly disobey His instructions. As the enemy invited Eve to question God’s goodness and to distrust His word, he planted fearful thoughts to Manaoh, and he is presenting lies to us today. Below are a number of faulty beliefs that need to be resisted and replaced with God’s truth. Use the examples below to help discover enemy lies targeted at your life.

False belief says: My life is barren and empty.

God’s Word says:

  • The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10 (NASB)

False belief says: I am insignificant.

God’s Word says:

  • You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you. Isaiah 43:4 (ESV)
  • For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. Deut. 7:6

False belief says: My life is meaningless and purposeless.

God’s Word says:

  • 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. Jer. 29:11

False belief says: God has abandoned and deserted me.

God’s Word says:

  • The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deut. 31:8
  • Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me. Psalm 27:10

Be Set Apart: By Protecting Your Mind

July 23, 2010

Read Judges 13:1-5

No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines. Judges 13:5

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  2 Corinthians 11:3

At a time when Israel was influenced by the Philistine beliefs, intermingling and embracing their ungodly lifestyle, and accepting their domination, God birthed a child through a barren woman to begin delivering Israel from enemy rule.

From his birth Sampson was to be a life-long Nazirite living distinctively different than others. As a Nazirite he was to avoid drinking wine, avoid physical contact with dead bodies, and was not to cut his hair. This pattern of living would allow Sampson’s life to stand out in direct contrast to the ungodly lifestyle assimilated by the Israelites.

Why the restriction of wine for Sampson and what’s the relevance of this story for us today? I think we miss the point if we use these passages to conclude whether or not to refrain from or enjoy drinking a glass of Merlot. The story’s message focuses on our need to accept God’s Word and instructions as truth and live accordingly. The Israelites were intoxicated having accepted beliefs and values that were in direct violation to the lifestyle God directed.

For Sampson, avoiding wine was a protection and strategy in preventing toxic pollutants from infiltrating his thinking. This same message is given in Romans 12:2…”Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Satan’s attempts to deceive are as alive today as they were in the Garden of Eden. The serpent encouraged Eve to believe the fruit was good for her offering her wisdom. She accepted his reasoning believing God was withholding from her. As Eve bit into the fruit, the Israelites bought into the lie that it was reasonable and beneficial to live under Philistine rule. What lies are we rationalizing and buying into today?

Even at a time when Israel contaminated their minds and hearts with enemy beliefs, when they had no awareness of their need for God, no desire for Him, and no interest in his lordship, God pursued them. He was at work behind enemy lines birthing a deliverer to call them back to the protective shelter of His truth and unending love. He continues to call to us today.

Personal Response

We read God’s instructions for a godly life in the Bible. Jesus lived a life fully embracing and living out God’s truth. The Holy Spirit dwells within every believer revealing truth and exposing deception. Ask the Holy Spirit today to reveal any enemy lies you have embraced. They may include:

  • Cultural values
  • Childhood beliefs
  • Negative words spoken by others
  • Thoughts that bring fear
  • Thoughts that question God’s goodness, love, or faithfulness

When Philistines Attack, Fight Back!

July 22, 2010

Then 3,000 men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam and said to Samson,“Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us?” Judges 15:11

We all, like the Israelites, need to battle the Philistines and not allow them to rule. Any thought, agreement, attachment, belief, or decision that is allowed to reign in your life is a Philistine. As long as you give them power, they usurp the Lordship of Christ. During the time of Sampson, the Israelites became content with Philistine domination. Instead of recognizing and battling these opponents, they lived life according to enemy standards never possessing the freedom and fullness that God desired for them.

Any time thoughts come inviting you to doubt God’s love, goodness and faithfulness, your mind has been hit by a Philistine arrow. When you feel unloved, that God is withholding good things from you, or that He has abandoned you, another Philistine arrow has penetrated your heart.

Although you can’t prevent the Philistines from attacking, you can prevent them from ruling by determining to believe what God says is true. Regardless of what you are thinking or feeling, resist enemy attacks by battling with God’s Word. Battling might involve reading, reciting, memorizing, praying, or speaking God’s Word aloud. Coupled with speaking it, determine to believe it.

Don’t feel guilty for the thoughts and emotions that come, recognize you are in the midst of a battle and fight back. Let God’s Word become the bullets in your gun, the arrows in your quiver, the lightning in your sword. Start shooting back, aiming and releasing, and swing wildly and ferociously. Remember that you never battle alone. God is in His Word partnering with you as you fight to establish His lordship in your life.

Take Down the Philistines: God’s Deliverance through Sampson

July 21, 2010

Read Judges 13-16

Travel with me exploring the life of Sampson and discover God’s desired deliverance for your life. Be careful not to think of the Philistines simply as Israel’s attacking enemies of the past. Instead recognize them as any thoughts, agreements, attachments, beliefs and resulting behaviors that usurp Christ’s Lordship in your life.

Determine to conquer the Philistines that launch their arrows into your mind and heart. Refuse to allow them to influence your actions or behaviors. Determine to fight back in order to establish Christ’s Lordship in your life. Choose to live in the freedom and fullness God desires for your life.

Christ has delivered you. It’s time to live like it.

I’m looking forward to journeying with you,

Lorie

The Danger of Self-Sufficiency

July 19, 2010

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Philippians 2:3

Eight weeks have passed since my relocation from Washington to California. Since moving into our new condo I’d written a devotional a day. Composing each one was an absolute labor. I intentionally and determinedly ignored the unopened boxes screaming “unpack me” along with the clutter of unorganized items that announced my neglect. To me, the disorder and disarray of our condo served as a disturbing picture of my current life achievement (or lack of). Yet, I trudged on daily refusing to take on household tasks until I had written and posted a daily devotional. I was holding myself together until I heard my husband telling a friend that he was enjoying his new job.

These words disturbed me because I couldn’t say I was enjoying writing. I had toiled, endured, trudged on, disciplined myself and produced every day, but it would be an absolute and utter lie to say that I enjoyed daily writing. I also knew that such striving might be a clue that writing may not be my calling in life.

In sharing this struggle with my husband, he suggested I employ the services of a life coach. He recognized this life transition was immensely challenging for me and wanted me to be supported as I pursued a new career. What’s even more disturbing is that in the midst of such support, I became more disturbed. You see, I didn’t want to need support. I wanted to pray this situation through, have God open doors, and walk right through them.

As I started to ponder my situation and tune into what God was saying to me, I recalled the decision made by a friend. This father had a son who was having trouble in school, associating with the wrong crowd, dabbling in drugs and making dangerous choices. When the idea of seeking support through counseling was suggested, he determined that his family would make it through this hurdle on their own. Unfortunately this family’s future didn’t have a happy ending. The son’s life became another casualty to drug abuse.

The decision of this father made me question if my desire to make it on my own was a refusal to acknowledge my need for help. During my quiet time today the verse, “Let not the foot of pride come upon me,” came to mind. (Ps. 36:11) A much as I’d like to make it on my own and figure out my next steps,  God hasn’t created me to live or succeed in life as a lone ranger. He’s made me to need the influence of others in order to complete His plans in my life. I’m sensing it’s time to consider my husband’s wise counsel, acknowledge my need for help, and stop working and writing alone.

Personal Response

Ask God to show you areas where you are trying to make it on your own.

One Thing You Lack

July 9, 2010

Read Mark 10:17-31

“But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.” Mark 10:22

A wealthy young man who from an early age has complied with religious and cultural expectations asks Jesus, “What else must I do to inherit eternal life?” His words, like ours, reveal the misperceptions of our thinking and the heart attachments that enslave us.

Jesus addressed his faulty thinking explaining that eternal life is a free gift. Although freely available, it is never attainable through human effort.

Jesus’ next endeavor was to release this man’s imprisoned heart. He offered this rich property owner freedom through giving away the wealth that held him in bondage in order to embrace kingdom life in Christ.

The decision of this young man is one of the Bible’s saddest stories because this man left Jesus sad and grieving, unwilling to accept Christ’s lordship.

You see, Christ doesn’t want to take away our possessions, wealth, or family, He simply wants us to release the idols that enslave us robbing us from accepting the freedom of His lordship.

Personal Prayer

Father, reveal any faulty thinking and heart attachments that keep me from receiving the freedom of your lordship.

Freedom’s Dance

July 7, 2010

“I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful.” Jeremiah 31:4

It’s been two months since our relocation to San Jose. God’s direction on this next chapter of our lives has involved a downsizing and releasing of many things along with the physical separation of family and friends. Although I’ve remained confident that this is God’s plan, it hasn’t been easy. The sale of our home required removing the final furnishings including two antique Louis XVI French armoires. All my efforts to find new homes for them proved futile. It’s hard to locate a vacant nine foot high space in a home and I wasn’t aware of any museums adding to their collections of French antiques.

It’s taken me 60 days to finally let God take control. I’ve experienced anxiousness, worry, and a lack of sleep but I’m finally ready to release the treasures that had become shackles imprisoning my heart.

It was during the Fourth of July Sunday worship that God gave me a picture of what He completed in my life. As the music stirred a desire to dance, I imagined myself asking Jesus to dance. At first I was dancing with Him, then I dancing independently as He infused my steps bringing grace and beauty to my movements. I knew instantly that this was a dance of freedom and my past journey allowed me to experience this dance.

One question remained in my mind that I presented to Jesus. Since He pursues me, why did I ask Him to dance instead of Him asking me?

His response was, “Lorie, I’m always available and waiting to dance with you. You are not free to dance with me when your hands and heart are attached to things and people. Your release brought you to the dance floor and into the dance of freedom.”

Personal Response

What attachments keep you from freedom’s dance? Ask Christ to free you to be able to dance freely with Him by revealing any:

  • Plans you’ve formed that you need to surrender.
  • Desires you pursue that compete with His desires for you.
  • Treasured things and relationships you are grasping that prevent you from dancing with Him.

The Freedom of Resting in Him

July 5, 2010

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Christ redeemed us to set us free. He offers us freedom from sin and from the bondage to any lordship that would enslave us. Taking on Christ’s yoke allows us to rest in His lordship. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

When we trust in Christ our souls (mind, will, and emotions) find rest. As a weaned child is satisfied simply enjoying her mother’s presence assured that her needs have been and will continually be met, we rest in Christ’s love and ongoing provision.

Personal Response

  • Rest through surrendering your false belief of needing to earn His love. Live in the awareness that you are completely and utterly loved.
  • Rest in the confidence that your past, present, and future needs are met in His abundance. His intimate knowledge of you releases you form the burden of explaining yourself or from anticipating and calculating your needs, they are already known. You are completely covered mentally, emotionally, and physically.
  • Rest realizing God is continually pursuing what is best for you. “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. “ (Philippians 1:6)

An Incredible Partnership

July 3, 2010

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

When Christ came to earth, He willingly and lovingly faced the challenges and pain that humans experience on earth. Jesus’ life, the conflicts he faced, and the agony He endured, blatantly oppose the false belief that once we embrace Jesus, we skip happily and merrily down the Christian yellow brick road.

When we are yoked to Jesus, we have adequate provision for the strength, guidance, protection and provision that is needed to complete the will of God. His leadership provides us with a partnership making our work manageable, good, and reasonable.

Everyone in life chooses a master to serve. It is our choice whether we serve Christ, others, or ourselves. We also must carry a burden. The question is whether we will carry the one custom designed for us by Christ, or one heavier than we were designed for.

No one is more intimately aware of you than Jesus. No one is as gentle, loving, and compassionate. Because of His love, He will not force His yoke upon you but instead invites you to chose it, wear His leadership, and in doing so, rest in His abundant provision for you.

Personal Response

When you find yourself burdened mentally, emotionally, or physically, close your eyes and picture yourself yoked with Jesus. Ask Christ to show you if you’ve taken on unnecessary pressures or responsibilities that you need to release. For those responsibilities that He’s asked you to carry, see yourself carrying them with Jesus while reminding yourself that His grace is sufficient for every load He’s asked you to carry. (2 Corinthians 12:9)