Imaginary Voices 

  
I hear voices in my head. 
(This isn’t about how I talk to myself on the daily, but I’m sure there are days where my husband and kids think I’ve lost it.)

It’s a commentary of my daily actions voiced by people who have hurt or offended me in the past. Sometimes it’s the voice of someone whose opinion I really care for. 

I think it’s something I have always done. In high school, I used to stare at my body and pick it apart after hearing a boyfriend tell me I had problem areas. It was as though he was standing next to me, pointing everything out that was wrong with me. I allowed those thoughts to control me and they remained in my mind for several years.

These are the words of my insecurity. These are my worries of what people think or perhaps a bit of pride. It’s tidbits of conversations. It’s my assumption of what some might say when I’m not looking. 

Most of the time, the thoughts are so much a part of me that I don’t even realize they are there. They’ve become my constant companion; discouraging me from this and judging me for that.

 They attack my mind at the worst possible times: when I’m serving the Lord, making big decisions, or perhaps just deciding to be myself. 

I’m talking about these voices as if they’re coming from someone real, but the other day it just hit me … 

They’re imaginary. 

Sure, some of the things I tell myself are things I have heard people say. Words can have a lasting negative effect. However, at the end of the day, my mind is the only place these words are taking place. Those people aren’t stalking me and breathing over my shoulder with every passing moment. My will is the only one giving them power to control me. 

The devil wants to use them to hinder my growth and walk with the Lord. He wants to blow things out of proportion so badly that I am angry and bitter with the world – over things that are only happening in my mind. 

Yes, bad stuff has happened in real life. I’ve had people be nasty and hurtful. By this point, the problem isn’t with those situations or with people. It’s the fact that it’s still going on in my mind and that I allow the thoughts to control me. 

How freeing it was to realize that these thoughts are imaginary. I’ve heard the words spoken in the past, but the playlist on repeat in my mind is truly only in my mind. I’ve got control over whether or not I turn off the stereo.

2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Imaginations are simply stories we make up in our heads. Our minds get away with us and before we know it, we are way in left field over something that hasn’t happened. (Like all of the times I have thought I have had cancer.) 

The best way to overcome these oppressive thoughts is to replace them with Bible. Get in the Word, meditate on what you read that day, listen to good music, and focus on good things. If there is truly something you’ve done wrong, ask the Lord to show you and make it right. After that, cast these thoughts down and ask the Lord to help clear your mind.

People are going to say awful things about you. We discussed that in my last post about persecution. People are going to dislike you and sometimes they will be flat out nasty. We can’t do a thing about that. We know that we have to forgive and ask the Lord to help us keep a pure heart toward them. After that, it’s on them. 

But their words don’t have to take up residence in our mind. Truly, it’s not even their words anymore. It’s simply the narrative of the enemy (the devil) who wants to hinder and destroy you. 

I think realizing this truth can help us avoid a lot of the bitterness that seems to plague people. It can help us to move on and truly let go of past hurts. 

Don’t let the words that live in your mind control you. Get in the Word and get your mind focused on Truth. We can’t overcome them in our own power, as the Bible says the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. We need a right relationship with the Lord and we need to be in His Word. 

That will make all the difference. Hopefully, you will be able to turn down the volume on those voices.

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Light the World: Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake

  
This is a lovely Baptist church that I can see from outside my bedroom window. We have been enjoying a lot of snow here!

Catch up on the other posts from this series: 

Humility 

Mourning

Meekness

Hunger and Thirst

Mercy

Pure in Heart

Peacemakers
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for their’s is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Matthew 5:10

I’d say that persecution would have to be one of my least favorite things about the Christian life. We are abundantly blessed with God’s love, provision, comfort, peace, eternal salvation, and so much more. However, there is still that promise that says we will see persecution for believing in Christ. In fact, the Bible says in John 15:20 that if they persecuted Jesus, people will persecute us. It’s a fact.

Let’s be real here: I live in America. I’m sitting in my warm house with my Bible flipped open on my desk, not a bit worried about what anyone would think. We are given the wonderful liberty and freedom to worship our God and share Him with whoever will listen.

I’ve never known severe persecution.

I’ve had people unfriend me because I made a lot of posts about Jesus. Some of my family members think I’m a bit off my rocker. Friendships have drifted over time because my interests changed after getting saved. That’s pretty small potatoes compared to people being beheaded and having to worship in secret for fear of being jailed or killed for their faith.

But it still stinks.

I’m someone that hates knowing people don’t like me. I try not to be the type that shoves Jesus down anyone’s throat, because then I’m just asking for trouble. However, it doesn’t matter how I approach it. The stand I take for Christ and His Word will be offensive to some and sometimes people can be very rude when they disagree.

We’ve talked about being humble, merciful, meek, and peaceful in the way we live our lives. I believe each of those traits are ones that God wants us to carry as we go through our lives and deal with people. He never intended for us to be pompous super Christians that make people feel two inches tall for disagreeing. He doesn’t want us fighting with the unsaved or less mature Christian (ahem, Facebook arguments).

He just asked that we stand.

And as a result, we might get hurt.

It’s not fun when people are rude. It’s not a joyous experience when you know someone purposefully avoids talking to you because you’re the “Jesus freak” or “Bible thumper.”

Now don’t go wallowing in self pity here, but it is okay to admit that it can hurt our feelings. It hurts mine. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I would love it if we could all be friends. KAY?!

Something that’s always been comforting to me during these times is knowing that I’m not the only one who has experienced this. Persecution goes way back. Paul, one of our greatest apostles and writers of the Bible, was a persecutor of Christians prior to getting saved! The three Hebrew children were thrown into the fiery furnace for not bowing down to Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. Joseph was betrayed by his own brothers! It’s not a new thing. Jesus knows exactly how it feels even when the smallest hurt comes and He’s promised to comfort me.

Experiencing persecution also means I belong to Him.

Please hear me when I say this.

I’m not talking about fighting with lost people only to be upset because they rammed their fist into your face. If we aren’t handling things in a peaceful and polite manner, then I’m sorry. You probably asked for it. Don’t say you’re suffering for Jesus’ sake when you aren’t acting like Jesus!

What I am saying is that when the Lord begins to change our hearts and our lives change, people will notice the difference. We will most certainly stand out. To some, it will be a stark contrast and just the simple fact that we carry our Bibles will be an offense to them. Persecution comes from the sinful, natural born flesh of man. Any person who does not know Christ will naturally want to rebel against God, which means they aren’t always going to like you or the things you say.

That difference in us should be a good reminder of Who we belong to.

I want to stress over and over again that this isn’t about being nasty to non believers and then feeling sorry for ourselves because they disagree. This is simply just a fact of life. A true born again Christian will be different and some will find it offensive. We shouldn’t purposefully try to shock and offend people, but the way we live our lives will offend that sinful nature. I know it will because, I was once a person without Christ who couldn’t stand Jesus talk. It’s just how it is.

God uses us a light in His world when we are different. When we get in His Word and grow in obedience and faith, changes will begin to show. People will notice.

We aren’t supposed to be like the world and unfortunately, that comes at a price.

It’s an ugly truth, but it’s there.

This is where we have to determine to stand, to love, forgive, have mercy, and give grace.

 

 

 

Tales From the Back Pew

  

 Crayon scribbling on a coloring book sounds so loud as we sit in a quiet church service. It’s a treat as we normally don’t let them color in church. Someone gave my oldest a Bible stories coloring book and fresh crayons. I figure it will be a good distraction at least this once. But she gets her little hands going and sure enough, I feel as though everyone can hear each scribble. 

Maybe not. I look around and nobody seems to care. Nobody notices my two year old crawling on the floor, kicking her legs up in the air and showing her Peppa Pig undies.

For the millionth time, I pull her dress back down. Even my toddler knows not to talk in church, but she’s got her ways. The kid is always taking her pants off at home; modesty isn’t a concept she’s grasped yet.

 The pastor’s wife has decided to sit on our pew this time around and she smirks to herself with a knowing expression. Perhaps she experienced this very thing when her kids were this small. 

Thank the Lord, she isn’t judging me. She thinks this is cute.

Somehow, my five year old boy managed to sneak Hot Wheel cars into his coat pockets this morning. Five of them. The moment my husband discovers their presence, he firmly grabs the cars and slides them into his own pocket.

One. Two. Three.

Little tears well up in my boy’s eyes. He believes he’s never getting them back.

“You can have them back after church,” I whisper.

Okay. Everyone is still. The seven year old is happily coloring and the annoying scribbling has subsided. My five year old is ticked off, looking at the ceiling as he is probably thinking he will be sitting there the rest of his life. My two year old is now sitting in her Daddy’s lap. Thankfully, her undies are no longer showing.

I can finally glean a few words from the preaching. I sit up a little straighter with a satisfied smile.

My kids are so well behaved. I’ve got this.

“If the musicians could come …” the pastor has called for invitation. This is the most serious part of the service and my older kids know there are no exceptions for talking or playing at this time.

That two year old is the one God sent to humble me.

“I need to poop,” she says plainly.

In the pew ahead of us, my sister in law covers her mouth trying to hold in a laugh.

“I NEED TO POOP!” She says a little louder.

I can tell my husband is equally amused and embarrassed. 

I quickly escort my outspoken toddler to the bathroom, biting my lip in hopes that I haven’t caused any major interruption.

The one thing I have learned from seven years of taking kids to church is that you basically have to pretend it didn’t happen and take it in stride. Making a big scene will be a bigger distraction than the child’s wiggles and antics.

They will run. They will laugh at the wrong time. They will wiggle. If the preacher mentions Willy Wonka in his message (like he did last Sunday), my two year old will holler out her adoration for Willy Wonka. Kids will be … kids. They still have to learn how to behave, but the span of time it takes can be grievous and sometimes downright comical.

Four years ago, I would’ve wanted to crawl under the pew in shame because my kids were too wiggly. I don’t really know if many people really cared all that much, but I was determined that they would sit still and be perfect. 

I would hear that one person sigh and it was as if I could hear them whisper, Please control your annoying kids.

I’ve since learned that I accomplish a lot more with them when I don’t stress it. I correct them when they’re wrong and praise them when they’ve done well. Sometimes my youngest may reach the point of no return and taking her out of the service is best.  Our parenting should reflect the way God parents us; graciously and mercifully, but with firm boundaries. 

This is life with kids. Always teaching, always learning. 

This is life from the back pew.

Light the World: Peacemakers

 
Catch up on this series with these posts: 

Humility
Mourning
Meekness
Hunger & Thirst
Mercy
Pure in Heart 

I used to get picked on so badly in school. My hair was frizzy and at 12 years old, I still played with Barbies. It was the norm for me to overhear, “she’s so weird” … even from kids I didn’t know very well. I can’t tell you how many days I came home crying. 

Mama always told me they were just jealous, that I ought to just smile and kill them with kindness. 

We hear that a lot, don’t we? 

It’s not a bad thing to practice. If someone is rude, we really oughta refrain from punching them. Sometimes, keeping our mouth shut is the best thing. Just put on a smile and keep walking. 

But we all know that some conflicts go deeper than that. 

As I entered my ever so dramatic teen years, I learned the satisfying trick of spitefully being nice. I discovered how to outdo my offender by being nice. (Oh you’re so pretty – but really, I hate you!) I didn’t truly care about loving them, I did not truly pray for them. I just wanted the satisfying feeling of looking right and them looking stupid. 

And yes, this has been since I became a born again Christian. 

Matthew 5:9 says blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. 

I read this verse and struggled within myself. My life has not been void of conflict with people and I’m sure there are a few out there that don’t like me too much. I hate that feeling. I’d do anything to avoid it, yet we are all humans and conflict is inevitable. How are we to be peacemakers in spite of that?

So, I did some more reading to help understand what exactly what this was saying. 

When people talk about making peace, you will often hear Romans 12:9. It says Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

This is almost always interpreted as if you’ve had someone do you wrong, be nice and it’ll burn your offender up inside. That’s my revenge! THEY BURN! I WIN! (*evil laughter*)

That’s not peace at all! Our hearts are still disturbed with anger! 

But we often neglect the passages earlier in the chapter. (Note: when a verse starts with the word therefore, read a little further back to see what it’s “there for.”) 

We see in verse 9, Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. God doesn’t want our love to include hypocrisy. He wants it to be pure. He wants us to avoid evil intentions with our actions. 

Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. God wants us to bless those who have hurt us with a pure heart. His intention is not for us to throw back a little tough love to make it even. He just wants us to love them and do good to them.

And leading straight up to verse 20, it says to Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

So, our kindness doesn’t need to have any trace of spite or hope of “getting back” at the people we have conflict with. Truly, that mentality feeds the flesh and further feeds the conflict. As I said earlier, our flesh gets us puffed up with the idea that we are the good one and they are the … moron. 

(There is none good, y’all)

The next verse I will study is Matthew 5:10, which says blessed are they which are persecuted. The Bible speaks of division and strife between people in multiple places. In Genesis, we saw Abram and Lot separate because their herdsman couldn’t get along. Conflict will arise as a result of us simply being sinful human beings. 

Being a peacemaker does not mean we will not have conflict. It means we will deal with them in a godly manner.

As with all things we do, God wants our motives and intentions to come from a pure place. I shared the other day that I can grit my teeth and smile at my worst enemy, but it does no good if my heart is tainted with bitterness and anger. 

Our goal should never to be to seek revenge, but to handle our matters peacefully. When we express genuine kindness to someone, our actions will soften their heart and perhaps even show them their own wrong doing. It may possibly even bring peace to the situation. Some people will flare up and get mad, but that’s on them. The Lord promised He would handle it. Surely He would do a better job as He knows their heart. Our part is to have a right heart towards them. 

Not just in our actions that others can see, but in our heart.

The most certain place to begin with this is prayer. I have been so angry before that I refused to pray for people. In turn, I always felt miserable as my bitterness ate away at me. I knew it would be very hard to be bitter if I simply prayed for the people who had caused hurt. 

Pray for the ones who have hurt you. Do good to them. Wish them well. Let the Lord transform your heart towards them. Let Him handle the rest. 

This goes against my sin nature, so it ain’t easy. But it’s right. 

The story will go on with you moving forward. You will have peace in your heart with God and with that person. Ultimately, others will see the genuine love of Christ displayed through you.

Light the World: Pure in Heart

  
Catch up on this series with these earlier posts: 

Humility
Mourning
Meekness
Hunger & Thirst
Mercy
When I hear the word purity, I’m back in seventh grade youth group as the minister teaches on “true love waits.” The purity culture was and still is a huge thing. Books like “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” were very popular. All of the girls were receiving rings that vowed their commitment to remain abstinent until their wedding night. 
There was also chatter about other things Christians shouldn’t do. Don’t cuss. Don’t drink. Don’t dress like a hooch. 

I was taught to be Christ like; to be as much like Christ as I could. I had learned He was sinless and had never even back talked His mama. In my mind, I needed to strive for that too. 

The problem with all of that? It was all on the surface. I wasn’t saved, I didn’t know Christ, and yet I was trying to live a pure life without Him. It didn’t take long until I got tired of my own hypocrisy and went wild.

In Matthew 5:8, it says Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 

We hear the word purity and we think someone who is upright, moral, and good. That can be an example and even a great picture, yes. But purity goes much deeper than what we do. 

As with all things I’ve discussed in this series, it’s a matter of the heart. 

Another definition of purity is to be free of any contamination. Now, we can wear the Sunday best and put on the church lady all we want, but if our heart isn’t clean – it doesn’t make a hill of beans. 

The only way to experience true purity is first to know Christ. I couldn’t live a pure life as a young girl, because I had never accepted Jesus. His Spirit was not in me, which meant I was simply driven by my sinful nature. It was in my very core to want to rebel, to want to do bad. 

Once I got saved, I was set free from that struggle of trying to do better and turning over new leaves. The Holy Spirit had taken up residence in my heart, cleansing me from sin, and beginning a work that is promised to be completed. (Philippians 1:6)

As God begins to work in our lives and we become obedient to His Word, we purifies us from the inside out. It’s much deeper than how we dress or talk. If the inside is right, that will be right too. He goes to those hidden places in our hearts that no one else sees. He goes to those traits in us NEVER put on display in the church house. He cleans us up and does a work that is impossible for us to do on our own.  

Purity is about what Christ does in our heart, not about our own self effort and long list of do’s and don’ts. 

If we allow God to do this work, we will be able to see Him more clearly. We will be more in tune with His voice, His desires for our lives, and we will grow in wisdom and understanding. The only way to truly succeed in this is to yield our will to His and get into the Word.

Those things we do? How we live our lives? That will change. God will transform our hearts and our desires will shift from that which is worldly over to the eternal. Others will see the change in us; a genuine change as a result of walking closely with our Savior. 

How is your heart? Are you trying to attain purity through self effort? Or are you allowing the Lord to work in your heart through His Word?

Light the World: Mercy

  
Catch up on my earlier posts from the beatitudes in Matthew 5:

Humility

Mourning
Meekness
Hunger & Thirst
A Southern gal like myself knows how to do one thing real well: hold grudges. 
Yeah, I’ll tell myself I’ve forgiven the person that has hurt me. I’ll grit my teeth and smile. I may even do something real nice for them just to even the score. But the Lord knows my heart. 

He sees past the facade and into the dark shadows of my heart, where bitterness and anger reside. Over and over again I remind myself why I’m mad, why I deserve to be mad, and maybe even fantasize whacking someone over the head. You might not see it, but the Lord does. (Proverbs 16:2)

Just bein’ honest, y’all. It ain’t pretty when the Lord reveals what my heart really looks like. Some days, I just have to hang my head. 

Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy. Matthew 5:7

Mercy isn’t something that can be mustered up. It can’t be faked. Killing a person with kindness only goes so far on the outside, while our insides are still suffering from the poison. 

Mercy is simply setting someone free. 

Jesus cleared our name, didn’t He? He paid our sin debt, stood in our place. We offended Him worse than any of the petty little things we do to each other in this life. 

Mercy is setting someone free. 

You can’t erase the hurt. You can’t ignore what happened or try to lie to yourself about the details. It’s still there. 

But you can set them free. You can pray for them with a pure heart, asking the Lord to help you let the hurt go.

They may never care or notice, but that’s between them and the Lord. You’ve got to cut it loose.

The sure benefit of setting someone free is in turn, you set yourself free. You’re no longer in the bondage of bitterness and anger, which can greatly hinder your life. 

I can’t say this is a one time, lay it at the cross deal. As humans, we have a protective nature and sometimes we pick our hurt up as if it’s our armor. Sometimes it’ll all get thrown in our face again. That’s when we have to go to the Lord and ask for help, remembering the mercy He has given us time and time again. 

Once we have shown that person mercy, we find mercy in our own lives as we are set free from the bitterness. Those ugly, dark cobwebs can be cleared from our hearts and we can serve with pure and whole motives. Our joy will be restored, our eyes will be fixed back upon God. 

And if it comes back up as that burning gets a going in your belly and you start to flare up, ask the Lord for help. He knows our nature and He knows our hurt. He is the only way we can show true mercy.

Light the World: Hunger & Thirst

  

Light the World discusses how God uses the characteristics in the beatitudes to shine through His people. If you’re new, here are the topics I’ve discussed so far:

Humility
Mourning

Meekness
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6

Sometimes my kids sneak into the snack cabinet right before dinner and grab a cookie. I can hear my mom coming out of my voice as I fuss and say, “you can’t eat that before dinner! You’ll ruin your appetite!”

We’ve ALL heard that, right? We shouldn’t fill up on snacks and junk food all day, because we won’t eat well at meal time. 

To hunger and thirst after something is to desire it. That’s pretty obvious, right? 

However, if we are constantly getting filled up with other stuff, we may not have the same craving for that food or drink. 

Imagine your spiritual life in the same way. You have snacked on your fleshly thoughts. You have filled up on the things of the world. You have given place to self, pride, bitterness, and anger. Quite literally, you are full of yourself! And when it comes time to hear the preaching/teaching of God’s Word, you don’t have much of an ear for it. You’re too consumed with everything else that has filled you up. The word that has gone out might reach your ears, but it is of little to no effect. 

Oh yeah, I’ve struggled here. I’ve spent Saturday evening mulling over my annoyances and struggles, making little to no time to get my heart right with God. Sunday morning is crazy enough between feeding and dressing kids as well as making it out the door in time. My mind is anywhere but on the things of God. 

Then the preacher says, “open your Bibles to…” 

I hear him. I agree with him. However, I’m already filled up with a ton of other things. It’s very hard to truly listen and really allow the Word to sink in. 

I’m not hungry or thirsty after the Lord because I’ve been filling up on other things.

If we want to truly be filled when we get into the Word or hear preaching, we have to get our hearts and minds focused back on Him. We have to ask for forgiveness for things that aren’t right in our hearts. We have to lay our burdens at the feet of Jesus. We have to empty out from all of the craziness that we have taken in. 

If you want to be filled with the Word, you’re going to have to be hungry and thirsty for it. The best way to do that is to stop filling up on the wrong things. Instead, prepare your heart by meditating on scripture, listening to godly music, and consciously controlling your thoughts. 

Once we become filled with the righteousness of God (through Him and by Him), it will show to others. It will be displayed through our actions and our speech. We will be less controlled by our flesh. The fruits of the Spirit will show forth more clearly, as we have yielded our will and thoughts over to the Lord. 

It will help our testimony before those that watch us every day. 

Fill yourself with the right things. Get your eyes back on Jesus and get in the Word.

Light the World: Meekness

  
Catch up on this series with:

Humility

Mourning
I heard a preacher say one time that we often spell success as “B-I-G.”

When I was a teen and planning my future, I had my sights set on being something like a writer or perhaps a counselor. I changed my ideas like the wind, but it was always something based in either the arts or helping people. (I also wanted to be a professional  singer, actress, German teacher – all things that promised very little money or chance of success.)

The dad of a young fella I was dating asked my seventeen year old self what I wanted to do with my future and I said writing. He looked at me very seriously and said, “You will never have a Mercedes in your garage doing that.” Well, needless to say, they didn’t think much of me. But that’s a story for a different day.

That seems to be the mindset of the world: Money, big houses, big cars, nice clothes, and a fat bank account equate to great success. As Christians, we kind of scoff at that mentality and say we don’t need all of that to be happy. And yet, so many of us are guilty of it too.

In Matthew 5:5, it says Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

I thought about this verse for a bit while I did a word study on meekness and tried to develop a thought about it. I was reminded of this mentality that so many of us have about success as Christians and how we believe we achieve it.

When my husband answered the call to preach, I will unfortunately confess I thought it meant we were going to become somebodies. Go ahead, I am rolling my eyes at myself too. Yes, I wanted to serve the Lord and others. But I had gotten it into my head that it would mean maybe he would preach big meetings, meet big preachers, or do something really … BIG. 

Like the big guys. With the big church. With the big job.

My heart was already so far from God with that mentality, as I was more concerned with the earthly happiness that serving in a different capacity could provide. I am so ashamed to admit that I bought into all of this, that I really believed God was pleased with my attitude.

As children of the Lord, no matter where or how we serve, He desires for us to have meekness. Quite simply, meekness is to be submissive, quiet, and gentle. I am not just talking about being shy or soft spoken, although that’s often the way we physically see a form of meekness displayed. Truly, meekness is a matter of the heart.

The way Jesus lived this in His own earthly ministry was clearly explained in Philippians 2:6-8 Who, being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

The King of kings came to this dark, cold world as a servant, as a humble man to live among us. He left all of glory to hang around in this place where there is death, sin, sickness, and crime … simply out of submissiveness to the Father and love for the people. He came from the throne and was born in a manger that lay inside of a filthy barn. He was born to a simple young woman, not a queen living in a palace. He innocently died the death of a criminal. Isaiah 53:2-3 describes Him like this: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him: he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Christ desires that same meekness out of us. I don’t believe He really is interested in us walking into a room and people saying, “Oh, he’s somebody.” Instead, I believe He wants us to walk into a room and people notice there is a difference, to notice that we are like Him. He wants them to notice our love, compassion, and grace.

As we witness, we shouldn’t be striving with non believers or fighting to get our point across. We shouldn’t walk with an air of arrogance that says, “Well, look what I can do. Look how spiritual I am.” Instead, we should have the constant understanding and awareness that we are nothing without Christ and we are simply servants for Him. We have to get the focus off of the big and flashy and back on Him. Even if it means we are nobodies. As long as Christ gets the glory, that’s all that matters.

How do we find this meekness? Galatians 5:22-23 lists meekness as a fruit of the Spirit. These fruits do not come through vain self effort, but through God Himself. As a devotion I recently read well stated, we get spiritual by becoming scriptural. Simply put: get in your Bible. Let the Lord work on your heart, be obedient to Him, and let Him work through you.

The blessings we receive through meekness will change our perspective on what Godly success really is. We will stop looking at the top positions, being noticed, or monetary blessings as our success. Instead, we will see God using us in a very real way, as we set our pride aside and allow Him to work through us. The blessings come when we are doing what God asks of us with a right spirit and right heart. It will change our attitude about the entire world around us. We find true, lasting joy that will be our strength even in struggle and difficulty.

Remember, the Bible is full of people that we might have called nobodies or losers for His glory. (We’ve been studying Judges at church and that seems to be an ongoing theme.) He’s not interested in our skill, talent, or exceptional people skills. He doesn’t care how fancy our clothes are. What He is interested in is our heart, our willingness to set ourselves aside and allow Him to work through us.

That’s how His light will shine through our meekness.

Light the World: Mourning

  
Yesterday’s post on the first beatitude found in Matthew 5: Humility

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4

The word blessed (pronounced here as bless-ed with the emphasis on “ed”) means “oh how happy.” It sounds like a pretty clear contradiction for this verse to say … Oh how happy are those that mourn. 
We imagine our happiness on the mountaintop, when things are going well, and when life is right. We also have fallen victim to the lie that our circumstances dictate our joy. 

I can’t say I love the experience of mourning, but I will say I’ve laughed in the midst of bitter tears. The reason is found in the latter part of the verse: those who mourn will be comforted. It’s a promise. 

God promised that when the Holy Spirit took up residence in a believer, we would be given a Comforter. He also said we would experience tribulation, pain, and suffering as part of the human experience.  Oh there have been many times when my heart was broken into a million pieces, yet I had peace because the Lord was there with me. It wasn’t quite the happiness I would’ve chosen, but I was still joyful knowing my Lord was with me and in control. It almost seemed insane to be so broken yet so full of peace, but that’s often how God works.

God’s light shines through His people in the midst of mourning. In a time where the world may expect to see us fall apart, God can help us to stand and move forward in the midst of great pain and difficulty. People take notice of that joy, that peace, and even that happiness. He receives the glory for something that was the devil intended to ruin us with. (Romans 8:28)

Thank God that in spite of the mourning and tears, we have a comforter. 

Light the World: Humility

  
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
The Bible says we are the light of the world. That light doesn’t illuminate by us raising a giant flag that says “I’m a Christian” … though I suppose you can if you want to. The light does not come from self effort. It comes from a true relationship with Jesus Christ. If He is our light, His light will shine through us. 

I used to think that being a Christian meant being a good person. I’d get out my Bible, promise to stop cussing and to be a better kid. I’d shun my friends who didn’t believe the same and would throw scripture at them to insult them. I had a few good runs with it. Unfortunately, I was trying to be a light although I didn’t have the Light myself. 

I hadn’t ever come to the realization that I was lost, a sinner on her way to hell. I just thought I needed to be better. Sure, there was a prayer I prayed as a five year old girl, because it was what everyone else was doing. I also prayed something similar when I was 12 after a Sunday school lesson on the rapture. I was terrified, but it didn’t really sink in that it was going to happen to me because I was lost. I was still depending on being better and being right to help me be a Christian. 

Just a few verses earlier in chapter 5, we can see the very things that God wants for His children so He can shine as their light. The first one, which I believe is no coincidence, is found in verse 3. 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Poor in spirit doesn’t mean spiritually malnourished or physically without. Simply put, it means humble. It means realizing who we are in the eyes of a Holy God. A person cannot know Christ without ever having a time in their life that they realized they were a lost sinner and that Christ is the only way to Heaven. 

It’s not about baptism, church membership, or being the best version of yourself. Salvation is simply coming to Christ with an honest confession that you’re a sinner and that you need His forgiveness for sin. He’s already done all of the work at Calvary – He just wants you to come. 

The second fold part of humility is the every day life of the Christian. We should understand each day that it’s by God’s grace that we are where we are and its His power that sustains us. We are given many talents, many skills, but the moment we depend on them for success, He loses the glory. He wants our eyes fixed on Him. He wants us to see that there is nothing truly that we can do for His glory without Him. His light shines brightest when we are resting in His power, not struggling in our own.

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. James 4:6

Do you have the light of Jesus today? Are you depending on His guiding light every day?