Fully Persuaded

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“God delights in His children stepping out over the aching void with nothing underneath their feet except the Word of God.”

Dr. Lillian B. Yeomans

I hope you’ve had a good week and you’re ready for part two of our Faith series!  Before we get started, there’s a scripture I want to share with you, and I would encourage you to refer to it quite often throughout this series, and that is Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (KJV)  I really like how the Amplified puts it – “And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].”  The reason I wanted to share this is to encourage you to take this time to renew your mind and examine – or re-examine – how you look at faith.  As you study the scriptures open your mind to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to daily increase your knowledge and understanding.

Let me ask you a question.  In whom do you put your confidence?  Who in your life can you put complete confidence in and know that no matter what they are going to be there for you and will be with you through thick and thin?  Who’s that person that you can trust to keep your deepest secrets and never let you down?   Who’s that person who, when they tell you they’re going to do something, you can confidently expect them to do it?  I’m sure those of you who have a spouse would be quick to name your spouse.  Many of us put confidence in our parents and close family members, or that close friend that we can confide in.

Let’s look at a scripture I’m sure you’re familiar with, Hebrews 11:1.  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (KJV)  I believe this verse has been hard for us to understand because we’ve looked at it from modern day definitions, so let’s dissect this verse looking at the Greek definitions using Strong’s and Vine’s dictionaries.

  • Strong’s uses the words “persuasion”, “a moral conviction of the truthfulness of God,” and “assurance” to define faith. Vine’s is pretty similar but elaborates a little more:  “firm persuasion, a conviction based upon hearing.”  I thought this was pretty interesting because we know that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.  (Romans 10:17) (Just a side note here, conviction is defined as a firmly held belief.)  Vine’s further notes that “The object of Abraham’s faith was not God’s promises . . . his faith rested on God Himself.”
  • I’ve always heard the word “substance” defined as “confidence, assurance, confident assurance”; which both dictionaries support, but Strong’s also defines it as “a setting under (support)”.
  • The word “hope” is defined by Strong’s as “expect”, which is definitely not how we would define it based on the English language.
  • Lastly, evidence is defined as “proof, conviction”.

So if we look at this verse in the context of these definitions, I think we could safely define faith – and I’m going to specifically say faith in God (our firm persuasion in the truthfulness of God) – is the support (it’s what we can confidently stand on) for those things we confidently expect, the proof of things not yet unseen.

Now, you can look at other translations and see various other translations of this verse, but I think another verse to look at that makes is so very simple is Romans 4:20-21.  This, too, is a familiar chapter that talks about the example of Abraham and these specific verses speak to his faith.  “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.”  That’s pretty much it in a nutshell; being fully persuaded that what God has promised, He is able also to perform it – and the Bible is full of the promises of God. His promises and His Word is what we can confidently stand on.

When I was thinking about this word “substance” and looking at the definitions, I thought about David – and just let me just say here that the more I think about this passage the more I see it as a true picture of David’s faith in God.  Remember when he told Saul that the Lord that had delivered him out of the paw of the lion and the bear would also deliver him out of the hand of the Philistine?  Then he turns around and tells Goliath the same thing.  He said “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand; and I will strike you down.”  (My paraphrase)  Then I love what he says in verse 47 “And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.”  What a perfect picture of confident assurance in his God!  David didn’t go out to face Goliath hoping (as we would define it today) that God would deliver him; he went out knowing and expecting God to do one more time what He had done with the lion and the bear!  David faced his giant knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt God was going to deliver this giant into his hands!

Whatever you may be facing right know, whatever your “giant” may be, stand on God’s promises, being fully persuaded that what God has promised He will do.  If you haven’t written down scriptures that pertain to your specific situation yet, now would be a good time to do that.  Read them out loud so that you hear them, read them with authority and let the reality of those promises get deep down inside you.  God’s Word is your support,  again it’s what He’s given us to stand on.  If you need a faith booster, look at Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”  We are saved by grace through faith, which is probably our greatest act of faith!

I would encourage you write down those scriptures and meditate on them.  Read the scriptures above and ask the Holy Spirit for revelation and understanding.  I assure you He will do it if you’ll take the time to get quiet and listen.  I pray that your faith will continue to grow stronger as you stand firmly on the promises of God and His faithfulness.  If you have any questions or comments or wish to share your “faith” experiences, please share them with us!

Faith Versus the Giant

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I’m so excited to launch a series on faith!!!  I would encourage you to take notes so you can refer to them throughout the week (or weeks).  Also, please feel free to leave any comments or questions you may have.  Through God’s guidance I will respond to you as quickly as I can.  These will probably be longer than what I have posted in the past, but I know this is where the Lord is leading, so let’s get started!

I know faith is a term we’re all familiar with, yet it tends to be an area we seem to struggle with, at least in certain areas of our lives.  I was listening to a teaching this week, and the Lord revealed some things to me about a particular passage in the Bible that I never really considered could be related to faith, and I felt it would be a great way to kick this series off.  This starts off in I Samuel 17, yes the story of David and Goliath, which I’m sure you’re also familiar with, but let’s refresh our memory.

Saul and the men of Israel had gathered by the valley of Elah to battle against the Philistines.  The Philistines stood on a mountain on one side of the valley and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side and the valley was in between them.  Well, the Philistines had a champion in their army named Goliath.  The dude stood 9-feet 9-inches tall, wore a coat of armor that weighed 125 pounds.  He had a bronze helmet on his head, bronze armor on his shins and a bronze javelin slung on his back.  He had a spear, the head of which alone weighed 15 pounds.  The guy was pretty much covered in armor, and then he had a man going before him that carried his shield.  For forty days, twice a day, he would stand and shout before the ranks of Israel “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me.  If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.  This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” (I Samuel 17:8-10 NIV).  Needless to say, there were no takers.

Well, back on the home front Jesse called David and told him to take some things to his brothers and Saul and see how they were doing.  When David got there the army was going out to fight again the Philistines, so David ran into the army and found his brothers.  While he was there, Goliath came out and gave his usual challenge and David heard him.  When the Israelites saw Goliath they did what they’d been doing for 40 days – ran.  They said “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.” (Verse 25)  I love David’s response – “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel?  Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”  (Verse 26)  So they repeated back to David what Saul had said.  Then David’s oldest brother got into it and it was pretty evident he didn’t want David there and thought his intentions were just to come and see the battle.  David’s response to him was “Now what have I done?  Can’t I even speak?” (Verse 29)  At that point he turned from his brother and asked again, and again they answered him.  Apparently there was some more conversation between David and the men and he was brought to Saul.

Verses 32 through 37 read “David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”  Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”  But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.  Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.  The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”  And Saul said “Go.”

Needless to say, David had no armor, so Saul tried to put his armor on David, but David ended up taking it off and he went out to meet Goliath with his staff in one hand, five stones in his shepherd’s bag and a sling in his other hand.  Now you have to picture this.  You’ve got Goliath, a 9-foot 9-inch man, fully decked out in his armor that probably weighed more than David himself, a spear and a man going before him with his shield, and David (remember David was a young man, probably even a teenager) shows up with his shepherd’s staff, a sling and a few stones.  From all outward appearances, this wasn’t really going to be a fair fight – a massive giant versus a little shepherd dude.  Amazingly, instead of seeing this as an easy victory, Goliath got mad; was insulted that this boy had come out to fight him.  “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.  “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”  (Verses 43-44)

And here is David’s response “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”  Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.  So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.”  (Verse 48-50)

What a clear picture of faith!!!  I want to point out a few things to you.  Number one, David called Goliath an “uncircumcised Philistine.”  Circumcision was the sign of the covenant God had made with Abraham.  David realized that first of all he had a covenant with God which had empowered him to kill the bear and lion, and would empower him to kill Goliath, as well; and secondly Goliath had no covenant with God, rendering him powerless, no matter of his stature or how much armor he had.  Number two, he ran right into the midst of the army; the NIV says he “ran to the battle lines.”  Granted he knew nothing of Goliath at this point, but the fact that he was entering the battle lines didn’t scare him (and he also ran to the battle line against Goliath).  Number three, when his brother came against him, he gave him a quick response and turned away from him.  Number four, “David said”.  When David met Goliath and Goliath gave his little spill to David, David didn’t just charge him with a sling and stone, he said “I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, and this day the Lord will deliver you in my hands.”

Now, this is how we can apply this to our lives.

  1. We have a covenant with God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Through that covenant we have been empowered and been made victorious (1 John 5:4).  Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  We must realize that our enemy has already been defeated (Colossians 2:15)
  2. We face our battles head on, knowing that God is on our side. Isaiah 52:12 says “…For the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward.”  The word “rereward” has been translated in some instances as “rear guard”, however, in the Hebrew it also means “gather you up.”  Know that no matter what you face, you’re never alone.  He has said He would never leave us nor forsake us.  (Hebrews 13:5)
  3. There will be people who will try to discourage you because a lot of people don’t understand what it means to walk by faith. It doesn’t make sense to them.  However, the Lord says that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and His ways higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8).  You have to put your confidence in God and His promises and “turn away” from people who are going to discourage you in your faith walk.
  4. We have to speak. Even though the enemy comes against us in our thoughts and our mind, we must respond verbally.  If you’ll go back and read Matthew 4, when satan tempted Jesus he responded to him with the Word, and this is exactly what we have to do.  Whatever circumstances you may be facing, find scriptures that relate specifically to your situation, as well as the promises of God; write them down somewhere where you can easily access them and read them out loud; meditate on them so that when the enemy comes against you, you can quickly respond to him with the Word.

I pray that these blogs will encourage you and that your faith will grow even more than you could ever imagine in the coming weeks, that you’ll be able to comprehend the authority you have as a child of God, and live in the fullness of Him!

Prayer for the Church

 

If my people

The past several weeks have awakened in me the need to pray for our nation.  Yes, I admit I should’ve already been doing this, but the fact of the matter is I hadn’t been.  The Lord really brought this home during our Independence Celebration at my church as our pastor spoke on “A Prayer for the Nation.”  Through that sermon I began to seek God in developing a specific prayer (and have actually used part of that sermon in this prayer).  Since that time there have been several turns of events in our nation, as well as around the world.  I began to read Facebook posts and saw animosity popping up everywhere, even from Christians.  It was really disheartening to see such derogatory remarks being made and pointing fingers and taking sides.  My son-in-law, who is the pastor of a church in our local community, wrote a post that I felt pretty much hit the nail on the head and placed blame where blame was due – the devil.  He is working overtime stealing, killing and destroying.  It’s the principalities, powers and the rulers of darkness we, the church, should be warring against.  As I sat down to start writing a prayer for what I thought was going to be for our nation, it turned out to be primarily a prayer for the church, the body of Christ.  I believe we have failed miserably in seeking God’s face for our nation and the world around us.  I’ll go ahead and make this personal – it’s sad that it’s taken such horrific events to bring me to the point of seeking God on behalf of America.  Below is my prayer – for myself, for the church and for our nation.

Dear Father,

I know our time is short before Jesus comes back for His bride.  You have called us to be holy just as you are holy, so Father, I humble myself before You and repent of any sin in my life.  I ask you to wash me anew and reveal to me any areas in my life that have not brought You glory and honor.  I shift my focus from the things of this world to You.  The enemy has sent distractions, both personally and on a national and global level; however, I realize that he is the enemy that has come to steal, kill and destroy, but You came to give us life.

You have called us to be the salt of the earth.  Just as salt seasons and flavors, help us to enhance and favorably influence the people and society around us.  I will resist moral corruption and decay, and preserve a Godly influence in my life so that I can influence the world around me.  I will be a light not only so they will see my good deeds but will see You through me and praise and glorify You, therefore dispelling and overtaking darkness.  I ask for boldness so that I will not be timid, but be like a city set on a hill.

I pray for those that are in authority, Father, from a local level all the way to our president, as well as those in our upcoming elections.  Lord, convict hearts and bring them to a place of repentance.  Your Word tells us that Your love draws us to repentance, so I ask that You will send people across their paths to show them and minister to them Your love, and that they would realize their need for You.  Lord, for those who are Christians, I ask for a spiritual renewal.  I ask for Godly wisdom and guidance.  Lord, give them boldness to represent You in a way that brings You glory.  I ask that they would find favor among men in order to accomplish Your will.  I ask for protection over those that serve.  Where there is corruption, I ask that truth would come forth and repentance abound.  I ask for divine guidance through Your Holy Spirit.

Lord, I seek Your face for my own life, as well as for my nation.   Father, I know that our fight isn’t against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers and the rulers of the darkness of this age.  Lord, I come before You now and I ask You to move in my life and in Your church, which I know You’re already doing, and in this nation.  I pray that Your strong right arm would be extended and that Your love would so abound through Your church that this world would see You in us in a big and mighty way.   I come against the principalities of darkness.  Your Word tells us You are light and I pray, Father God, that that light would dispel the darkness and reveal what the enemy is doing.

Father God, I pray that Your people would stop pointing fingers, and that we would not play into the devil’s schemes of division, strife, hatred and deception.  I pray that we would submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit as He quickens us as to what we should say and do.  As Your church we are Your ambassadors, Your representatives, so I pray that we would strive to represent You well.  Help us to be a people that walk uprightly before You, Lord, that we would see and recognize and use the authority that You have given us on this earth through the death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ, and that we would realize that the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us.  Lord, help us to boldly take a stand for You and come against these principalities of darkness.  I pray that we would no longer sit idly by and twiddle our thumbs and say there’s nothing we can do when the greatest thing that we can do is come before Your throne on behalf of Your church, our nation and the world around us.

Lord, I submit to You.  I submit to You spirit, soul and body to be the person that You created me to be.  Father God, I am willing to be transformed.  I renew my mind by Your Word and I am willing to be transformed into the person that you created me to be and if there’s anything in my life that doesn’t represent that person, Father God, I put it off right now in the name of Jesus.  I put off timidity.  I put off anxiety.  I put off fear.  Lord, I put off worthlessness and I take up that person that You have created me to be as Your daughter and I walk boldly in who I am in You.  I cast down thoughts and imaginations that the enemy may put into my head that I’m anything less.  Lord, I receive right now and I walk in what You’ve created me to be.

I ask, Father God, that Your church, Your body, would be unified; that we would be unified in standing and coming before Your throne and seeking Your face not as powerless people, but as a people that have power through the blood of Jesus.  Lord, I pray that we would walk in the fullness of what You’ve provided for us, that we would get into Your Word and find out exactly what that is and that we would walk boldly in it.  I pray that we would be the church that You’ve created us to be, and that we would be that member of the body that You’ve created us to be.  Lord, I pray that Your love would so abound in us that it would show through our countenance wherever we go.

Lord, I pray that everywhere we step our foot we would know that You are with us as we dwell in that secret place of the Most High.  I thank You, Father, for the angels that You have given charge over us.  You are our refuge and our fortress, and we lean and rely on You.

Father God, I thank You for Your Holy Spirit that You have imparted to us, that part of You that lives within us, and I pray that He would divinely guide us.  Guide our words, Lord; guide our actions so that we bring glory and honor to You.  I praise You, Father God, for all that You’ve given us; for all of Your grace; Your ability on top of our own ability.  Lord, we can do nothing on our own accord but through You we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.  Lord, You have provided us with the means to do whatever You have called us to do.  Lord, I ask that You would continually remind us of that.  I thank You for that, Lord.  I ask for Your continued grace and mercy, and for Your continued guidance, Lord.  You are a mighty God, and it’s in the mighty name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

A Prayer to the Mender

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Lord, I know that You love me more than I’ll ever now.  You love me in the deepest way possible and only You can fill the void.  So here are all the broken pieces of my heart.  Take them ever so gently in Your hands and restore my heart back to wholeness.  Take the hurt and gently caress it, bring it close to Your own heart and send life flowing back into my innermost being.  Take the pieces that have been crushed and put them in the palms of Your hands, and bringing them ever so close to Your lips, speak words of tenderness and love so that they melt and join together to form a heart that begins to take on a resemblances of Your own.  I love you, Lord, and I trust you, and I know you’ll never leave more nor forsake me.  I know I don’t have to prove myself to you anymore, and that You accept me as I am.  I do want to be more like You and be the complete person You created me to be.  I embrace the plans You have for my life and I trust You as we begin this new journey.  Father, I ask this in the precious name of Jesus, Your Son, who valued me enough to spill His own precious blood.  Amen and Amen!

Reflections

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(Walk through doors of church.)

Me:  (Hmmm, there’s a smiling face).  Good morning!  I’m good, how are you?

Me:  (Uh oh, can you say grumpy?  Looks like she just lost her best friend.  Just throw out a fake smile and keep on walking).

Holy Spirit:  You know you could’ve stopped and given a real hug, asked how she’s doing and at least tell her you’ll be praying for her.

Me:  Yeah, but I probably would’ve forgotten by the time I got to my seat.

Holy Spirit:  Well, you could’ve taken the time right then and there to pray for her.

Me:  (No response)  Oh hey, sister.  How are you doing this morning?

Sister:  Hey!  I’m doing good.  So are you okay with us not really having a say so in what goes on around here?  I know – I don’t need to be stirring up stuff but . . .

Me:  (Are you serious right now?  Where did this attitude come from?  Just let me get away from this person.)

Holy Spirit:  You know she’s had a rough past.  She’s probably struggling with bitterness.

Me:  I know, but I thought she was a bigger person than that.  I’m so disappointed right now.  She just needs to get over it.

Holy Spirit:  Have you forgotten where you came from?  Have you forgotten how long it took you to let go of your past, to find you sense of self-worth and “get over it?”

Me:  (Ouch)

Holy Spirit:  Did you think that maybe I allowed your paths to cross this morning so you could be praying for her? It may be that a door will open and you’ll be able to share your story and minister to her.

Me:  I guess not.  I really need to work on my prayer life.  I mean, we converse all the time, but I’ve been kind of slack in praying for others.  I’ll work on that.

Holy Spirit:  You know, if you’re wanting me to use you to help other women, you have to be sensitive to my leading.  You have to show compassion to them instead of turning a cold shoulder and feeling like you don’t have time for them.  They may disappoint you, but then that would be all about you.  You should be moved by compassion just as Jesus was.

Me:  True, but I just get tired of seeing such sad, gloomy Christians with bad attitudes. I know I haven’t walked in her particular situation, or anybody’s situation for that matter, but I’ve been through some tough stuff too, some of which nobody knows about.  I know there’s a way to get past the bitterness and the hurt.  She’s in a good church and preaches the uncompromised word of God, but yet she chooses to carry this bitterness around with her.

Holy Spirit:  Then you also know things aren’t as simple as you make them out to be.  Things take time.  How many times did you wish someone could look inside and see the hurt you were going through and just be a friend to you?

(Reality hits.)

Me:  I guess sometimes I think I’ve come to a place in life and all of a sudden I realize I’m not where I thought I was.  Something happens or someone says the wrong thing – unintentionally – and I take it personally.  I get easily offended when those certain buttons get pushed and now I see I’m not where I thought I was.  I know I still have those vulnerable spots and the enemy knows where they are and he knows how to push them.  However, that’s not an excuse for me to be uncompassionate towards others.  Instead of being critical or getting disappointed I need to be saying “Okay God, you put this person in front of me and I know that there’s a need here, so I lift them up to you.  I ask, Father God, that You would minister Your peace to them, that You would reveal to them things that You would have them to know and do to get rid of this bitterness,” and then even take it a step further and say “Lord, even if I can even be an instrument in Your hands then let me be that instrument.  I’m willing to do whatever You need me to do for this person.”  I guess this is about more than the external side I see in people.  It’s more about getting past my own self and looking through God’s eyes.  It’s about discerning opportunities You put in front of me and looking beyond the surface and being willing to be used by You.

I guess sometimes the reason we’re easily offended is because it strikes a bad chord.  It reminds of our past, our feelings of insignificance and worthlessness.  It reminds us of our failures.  It’s during these times we find ourselves looking for a friend – not for pity but just a friend to remind us of where we’ve come from and where we are now.  When someone sees past the outside and knows we’re hurting on the inside and the Holy Spirit gives them just the right words we need to hear instead, that’s compassion.  It’s not being thrown a fake smile or given a cold shoulder; it’s saying “What can I do?  Let me pray for you.”

The phrase “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” keeps coming to mind.  If I want God to use me in a ministry for women then I can’t turn a cold shoulder and a hard heart to them.  I can’t say, “You need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”  Sometimes it takes another hand to pull them up because sometimes they can’t even find their bootstraps, and when they can’t find their bootstraps, maybe – just maybe – I need to be that servant that kneels down and helps them up, even if it’s just to hand them their bootstraps.

Lesson learned.  Lord forgive me as I’ve failed miserably this time, but I won’t next time.

Holy Spirit:  I couldn’t have said it better myself.

(End script)

I would encourage you to reflect over the past few weeks and months and see if there were any lost opportunities, and if there are try to make them your last.

“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”

Colossians 3:12-14 (The Message)

Green is NOT Your Color

Envy

“Did you see those shoes she had on?”

“Yeah, they’re really cute!”

“Isn’t that the same pair you tried on just the other day?”

“Yeah – yeah they are.  I didn’t have the money to get them.”

And the GPS in our head says “In 200 feet turn left onto Envy Street.”

I have found myself in a very unlikeable place recently.  There are some things I really want to do, things that I truly believe God is leading me into and it’s been taking a while to come to fruition.  I don’t expect things to just fall into place and happen overnight, but a little something here and there to let me know I’m on the right track wouldn’t hurt.  Yes, I’m trusting God and waiting on Him.  Unfortunately, it would appear that this green slime has been seeping in through the cracks and I guess I just turned a blind eye to it.  Have you seen the commercial on TV where the house is flooding and the man just sits in his chair reading his newspaper seemingly oblivious to the fact the water is rising?  Yeah, well that would’ve been me recently, except instead of flood waters it’s been green yucky slime.  But then something happened!!

I went to my daughter and son-in-law’s church last Sunday night (really enjoy hearing him preach); however, his uncle was preaching instead – which is all good because I enjoy hearing him as well, but little did I know that I was there for more than just a visit.  He preached on how Satan knows our weak spots and how he can subtly slide right in and start pushing our buttons, reminding us of our past, or tempting us to go back to our old way of life, or whatever that weakness might be.  He demonstrated his point in a very effective way; as a matter of fact it took me a few seconds to realize what he was doing.  He sat down beside a lady on the front row, kind of like what I would call “buddying up” to her and said in a low voice something to the effect of “You know, we used to go out and . . .” at which point the lady pushed him away.  He jumped up and said “That’s what you’ve got to do when the devil comes at you.”  (These aren’t verbatim quotes, but you get the idea.)  I was thinking wow, that’s a really good illustration.  The service ended, I hung around and talked a little and came home . . . and then I got on Facebook.  If I could insert emoticons here, there would be a whole line of them.  I saw where a lady who had just started coming to my church had listed on her page some of the things she was doing and they all included everything – everything – I wanted to be doing.  Not only that, I saw where another lady in our church was also doing a couple of them.  (Sorry for my vagueness on what the things are, but they need to remain undisclosed right now.)  Unfortunately my reaction to this news wasn’t the best.  I’m telling you I got mad.  (Did you see someone slip in and side down beside me, because I sure didn’t?)  Then one thought led to another and before long I was mad at just about everybody on Facebook that was doing anything even remotely similar to what I wanted to be doing.  Unfortunately this wasn’t short-lived because I let the devil follow me around the whole next day.  I mean I was mad at the whole world.

Well, Monday evening it hit me.  Not only had I not pushed the devil away, but I’d let him tag along all day long.  And what’s even worse, my eyes were open to the real source of the problem here – jealousy and envy – and it wasn’t a pretty sight.  I couldn’t believe how my feelings were based on such selfishness.  Instead of thinking “Hey, that’s pretty cool.  I need to connect with them.  They may be able to give me some pointers,” I was envious.  I should’ve been glad that God was using them and be supportive of their ministries, but instead all I could see was what they were doing and what I wasn’t doing.  Then the thought hit me that just about knocked my feet out from underneath me – How can God use me in the ministry He has for me if I can’t be supportive and happy for others and their success and the work they’re doing for the Lord.  And yet another thought came – I’d been in a “mopey” kind of mood for a few weeks and was trying to figure out where my joy had gone, and I thought no wonder; there’s no joy in having such a self-centered attitude.  It was right then and there I said no, this is not the person I want to be.  I don’t want my world to revolve around little ole me.  I don’t want to be wallowing around in self-pity and throwing pity parties every time I see how someone else is succeeding, no matter in what area of their life it may be in.

I was reading some scriptures on jealous and envy, and they keep company with some pretty bad dudes.  Galatians 5:19-20 says “Now the doings (practices) of the flesh are clear (obvious): they are immorality, impurity, indecency, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies), envy, drunkeness, carousing, and the like. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Amplified) (Italics mine).  Yes, I know that this is a flesh thing too, but I think there are times when the enemy and our flesh join hands and come in like a flood.

The last part of this chapter in Galatians talks about being led by either the Holy Spirit or by our own desires.  Verses 22 through 23 tell us what the work of the Holy Spirit within us accomplishes:  “But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].”  (Amplified)

To take it a step further, verse 24 says “And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires.”  (Amplified)  Many times our flesh will rear its old ugly head and resist the leading of the Holy Spirit, but if we stay attuned to the Spirit and follow His lead, we can very quickly put our flesh in its place – and the devil.  Verses 25 and 26 put it very plainly – “If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.]  Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited, competitive and challenging and provoking and irritating to one another, envying and being jealous of one another.” (Amplified)

Let me tell you what else jealousy does.  It shows an ungrateful attitude towards God.  Often times while we’re having our pity party we turn our focus on God and start questioning – “Well, so-and-so has this or they’ve done that and I’m sitting here with nothing!”  Friend, shaking your finger in the face of God is a dangerous place to be.  When we have envy and jealousy in our heart, we have a tendency to look everywhere but inward – focusing on others and questioning God.  It may be that God is preparing you for what He has for you to do.  We may need to do some housecleaning and some mind-cleaning.  We may need to get rid of the muck that has us stuck so we can move forward.  If you can look around you or look back in your life and see one thing God has blessed you with, you should be grateful.  My guess is you’re going to find a whole lot more than one – a roof over your head, clothes on your back, food on the table – and that’s just a start.  Our focus needs to change from what we don’t have to what we do have.  We also need to look inward and see if a transformation needs to take place.

So if you seem to have lost your joy and can’t seem to get out of the muck, look behind you and see who might be tagging along.  Look inward and see who’s in control – the Holy Spirit or your flesh. I encourage you to kick your “pity-party buddies” out the door and shut that thing down.  Get before the Lord and repent.  He’s ready to forgive and help get you moving in the right direction.

Father God, I repent of jealousy and envy.  I ask You to forgive me and wash me anew.  Open my eyes to the work You’re doing in me.  I submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and crucify my flesh.  I do thank You for all that You have blessed me with – from the smallest to the greatest.  Thank you for loving me and leading me.  In Jesus name, Amen!