” Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
Happy 4th of July! As we take time to celebrate the freedoms we have as American citizens let’s also celebrate the freedom we have in Jesus through the Spirit of the Lord.
When we walk in step with the Spirit of the Lord we will experience the freedom he brings through his transforming power. Think about it. We are free to love others, offer peace, give forgiveness, give grace, give praise, give thanks, and …….. We are free to experience these benefits because of the transforming power of the Spirit. Who renews our heart from evil desires to pure and holy desires that bring Glory to God.
Let the freedom of the Spirit reign in our lives!!!
Be Alert~ Stay Strong~ Pray Always
Welcome if you are joining me for the first time. This post is part of my weekly series “Wisdom Wellspring”. Take a moment to visit the page to learn about the heart behind the series and view previous posts.
Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
This weeks treasure verse is Romans 5:8. Here we are reminded of God’s demonstration of his love for us. He chose the proof of his extravagant, never ending love to be one matchless in cost, immeasurable in accomplishment, and pure perfection all in one. The one true God displayed his enduring love for sinful humanity when he provided the only acceptable sacrifice— his very own sinless Son, Jesus Christ– required for the canceling out of all the sins of humanity. God did not wait for us to recognize our sin and then demonstrate his love for us. No, he showed “his love while we were still sinners”. This kindness extended by the Lord was done with the purpose of leading humanity to repentance(Romans 2:4) and reconciliation with himself to experience intimate relationship with him once again. A relationship like he shared with Adam and Eve before sin entered our world(Genesis 3:1-24). I encourage us each to take a moment to reflect on the extravagance of the Lord’s sacrifice to reestablish a direct
personal relationship with us. How does his sacrifice speak to your heart?
As you have been reading this reflection, you may be feeling the Lord nudge your heart or even have feelings that you need to do something as your personal demonstration of your love for your Savior. That is lovely and beautiful. A good scripture to keep in mind as you reflect on how you will express your love is Psalm 51: 16 -17 “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring you it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My scarf, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”
Lord I pray that we will present to you the delight of your heart with a personal sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart before you. A heart that responds to your kindness that leads to repentance and a desire to live in an intimate love relationship with you through the indwelling of your spirit in our hearts. Thank you Lord for your matchless expression of love toward us while we were still sinners. In Jesus’ Holy name, Amen.
Is there a word in the dictionary that describes how you feel about God? I’d love for you to share it with me. He is my Rock!
Be Alert~ Stay Strong~ Pray Always
Welcome if you are joining me for the first time. This post is part of my weekly series “Wisdom Wellspring“. Take a moment to visit the page to learn about the heart behind the series and view previous posts.
Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Have you ever started preparing a meal and discover you have had your pan on the wrong burner? Once again I found myself wondering how in the world I didn’t notice sooner that nothing was happening in my pot that should be boiling any moment. As I reached for the handle it was very hot to the touch but the rest was not. That’s when I realized I had turned on the wrong burner and proceeded to increase the temperature as required only to succeed in heating the handle not the contents. After rectifying the problem I moved on the next item of importance. But as I looked back at the stove with my hand still stinging from grabbing the piping hot handle, I thought “isn’t that just like life.” I wake up each morning with a basic plan and focus to spend my time and energy according to what I think is most important. Then I’m off and running. The next thing I know I’ve turned on the wrong burner! My energy is not directed where it is required to accomplish the necessary tasks for the day. Can you relate? I also thought of how quickly these “wrong burner days” can easily become weeks, months and sometimes years if I don’t seek daily guidance from the Lord on how to spend my time and energy He has given to me. His word tells me that he has “created me for good works” that He has prepared for me (Ephesians 2:10). I don’t want to focus my time and energy into a burner that isn’t warming His prepared task for me. In order to put the right amount of energy and focus into each burner I have to seek Him first.
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
Is anyone else tired of the walls and distance between who a person is and who others believe they are? Can we please just be REAL? Life is tough no matter at what stage you find yourself. When we chose to build walls and keep others at a distance it hinders the growth of authentic relationships. The extent to which barriers are built can even lead to losing the ability to know how to be “you”. Leaving the builder, you, with the question to answer: “Who am I?” Have you ever experienced a struggle within to identify and express your personal opinions and beliefs? You strain to acknowledge them. But they are blurred by the mask you’ve worn for the world. Emotions try to emerge but they are blocked. All you can feel is fear, numbness and confusion. Reinforcements come to the rescue. “What will they think of me if I’m really me?”… “No one will like me anymore.”… “No one has to know I’m struggling…I can just keep hiding.” The questions and rationalizations are indicators that your chameleon walls are thick and the reinforcements are strong.
How do I know? I was a chameleon for most of my life. Growing up I struggled with who I was, so I lived in safety of my camouflage skills, like a chameleon. My natural instinct was to keep harmony, make others happy, and stay out of trouble. The expectations of others ruled my world. I adapted and changed based on who I was with and what their expectations were so I would be accepted and keep the peace. I thought I was in control.
Do I have any chameleon friends out there? It might not be easy at first glance to recognize it in yourself. Why? Because to an extent that is just part of surviving in our world of ever changing norms and expectations. I realize it is safer to live with walls. I’m an expert builder myself. But I have been challenged to tear my walls down and build REAL relationships: Relational through Encouragement, Authenticity, and Love! That means sharing the struggles of life and letting the light of Jesus shine through my weaknesses as my source of strength.
I was most challenged with tearing down my walls while living in Germany. Our family was preparing for Daddy to deploy for 15 months and suddenly I found myself facing a medical diagnosis that required emergency surgery with an extended recovery time. Many decisions needed to be made. One decision was “will this be a private walk or a public walk?”
Public was what the Lord required. In 2 Corinthians 1: 4-5 the Apostle Paul encourages us that we go through challenges to prepare us and give us opportunity to edify and relate to others through our experience. So there I was on the receiving end of much encouragement and support from newly made friends and strangers. I was learning to live out Proverbs 27:10 where it tells us that when we are in need of assistance we should get our help from those nearby rather than distant family. Living in Germany didn’t leave much choice. It was out of my control
Through that experience I gained friendships I never would have had the opportunity for and my witness for Christ grew. At that time I was also a leader in the community so for those who were watching my family and I handle this challenge it strengthened the message that we need each other in the good times and the challenging ones too. As I let the Lord tear down some of my walls and trust him to be in control I grew in amazing ways. It became clear that I was telling women through my actions that a “strong woman is one who knows when she needs help and seeks it out”. I have witnessed so many women, especially military wives, struggle in their own strength. They chose to stay behind their walls and fake that they were in control and just fine. In reality, inside their walls at home, they were falling apart. I had a front row seat to my own struggle. When I let go of my control to the Lord. He broke me free! I chose to be REAL first with Jesus and began doing life in his strength. Then I found the freedom to be REAL with the people he placed in my life.
Can you relate to being a wall builder? Do you struggle to appear to have it “all together” when the world looks at you? Are you ready to live in REAL community? Where do you want do go in your freedom of being REAL?
When is the last time you took a moment to be quiet and listen for the sound of your heartbeat….dun dunt – dun dunt? Or experienced yourself breathe…the still air drawn in as it lifts your chest and extends your abdomen before the release…awe. I think it takes courage to be still with yourself. I believe we don’t take enough time for stillness in our overstimulated lives,though that is just what we need. Stillness before the Lord. Have you ever considered that our very life began with a heartbeat, followed by a breath of life that awakened the anticipation of our first step in life’s journey. I have learned the importance of being brave and taking the first step to be still with the Lord. Because it is there that I find the courage for the next step of each journey even when the path is difficult or unclear.
Much like a child learning to walk, we are driven by the desire and inspiration that power our courage to take each step and keep get up when we fall. I’m sure we each have an image in mind of a precious child taking their first steps. For me, it’s the twinkle in her eye that reveals a desire within to just get to her daddy’s hands. Because she’s inspired to be swept up into his safe and loving arms to celebrate her accomplishment or pick her up when she falls, she is courageous. She trusts her daddy.
How trusting are you of your Abba Father? I know the level of trust that I have of my Abba Father is reflected in the courage with which I live my life. Maybe you can relate? It’s not a natural thing to be still before the Lord. But as I shared earlier I have learned to “just do it”, like the Nike motto inspires us. I remember a time when
I had to do just that- choose to be courageous. The choice became evident one day when I was wrestling with the feeling that I was missing out on life. Part of me argued that missing out didn’t make sense because I was involved in so many “good” things for the kingdom. That argument won the first round. I let the feeling linger just setting it aside as I trusted that it would pass while I kept doing “good” things.” Then, unexpectedly, came round two as I was reading in my devo time. There it was! A message from Christ himself about how abundant life with him is intended to be something we experience now. (John 10:10). I was missing out! I was not experiencing much joy in my life, no matter what I did.
To my knees I went. I chose to be brave, to pray, and seek the Lord about why I was missing out on the abundant life he has for me. The feeling I had was a nudge to reflect and be still with the Lord. When I did, it become clear I had been letting the thief rob me without putting up a fight. I needed to be still with the Lord and delight in Him so He could refocus my desire, he could inspire me for His Kingdom, and cultivate my courage to step out with confidence as he shows me his ways. A verse that I turn to often is Psalm 25:4-5. One day it literally kept me from a complete breakdown…but that faith adventure is for another time.
What is your desire? Listen for it. Where is your inspiration found? Experience it as you breathe. Are you living with courage? What steps are you taking to live out the desires and inspirations the Lord has placed in you? No matter what your answers are, know that you can find courage in the Lord.
We can be courageous and take the next step! We need to just come to the Lord with childlike faith (Luke 18:17) even the size of a mustard seed (Mathew 17:20) and trust our Father in Heaven. In Psalm 37:4-6 we are reminded that when we delight ourselves in the Lord he gives us the desires of our heart. How will you delight in the Lord today? This week?
Are you looking for renewed desire, inspiration, and more courage for your journey?
Can you relate to needing to be still with the Lord and just breathe? He is waiting!
Please share how you spend time delighting in the Lord.
How is your spiritual breathing? Have you been holding your breath too long? Take a deep breath. Hold it…..keep holding it….okay BREATHE. Did just the thought of holding your breath make you anxious? I don’t like the feeling I get after holding my breath for too long. My heart starts to race and I begin to feel light headed. Why do you think that is? Because breathing oxygen is essential to life and our breath rate is usually in rhythm with our heart rate. They are dependent on each other to do their job- provide O2 to the body.
Like physical breathing is essential to our physical life, taking time to spiritually BREATHE is essential to our spiritual life. Living out my identity in Christ should be as automatic as each breath I take, right? But why isn’t it? Oxygen taken in with each new breath is essential to maintain the strength of life in our body– from all the tiny cells to, each major organ. Likewise, the way we live out our identity in Christ maintains the strength of our spiritual life. I am challenged by the harsh reality that I am not as immediatly aware or alarmed when my spiritual breathing has been interrupted as I am when I am forced to hold my breath for more than 30 seconds. I can begin to feel the panic rise up inside, as I desire to release the old air and receive the new to avoid loss of consciousness or ultimately loss of life.
So what do I mean by spiritual breathing? Well recently I’ve been challenged with principles to help maintain spiritual balance in my life or taking time to BREATHE. I tend to put principles into acrostics making them easier to remember and put into practice. Here is my BREATHE acrostic:
Believe God is able ~Remember you are redeemed and release ~Everyday eternally focused ~Available and aware ~Trust with thanksgiving ~Humbly resist ~Exhale ~
When I keep each of these “BREATHE” principles active in my life I am strengthening my spiritual life through responsible relationship with the Lord by living my identity in Him. I notice that I become spiritually oxygen deprived when any of the principles are out of balance or rhythm. Let’s take a brief look at these principles.
BelieveGod is able. This principle challenges us to keep who God is in alignment with who we believe He is. Sometimes this looks like remembering that He is the great I AM who holds all that is dear to me in his all-powerful, majestic hands. This principle asks us- “What do you really believe about God’s ability to provide and care for you and all that you hold close?” This of course cramps the style of any of us control freaks, right? ~Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God…” ~ Deuteronomy 7:9 “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God…”
Remember you are redeemed and release. Knowing who God is and remembering he has redeemed us as his daughters is the foundation of one’s identity in Christ. When I reflect on the power and sacrifice that were exercised for my redemption it calls me to a place of surrender and release. I surrender to his never-ending love where I am able to experience his gentle kindness. In this sweet relationship I release my hold on the shame of my sinfulness and allow him to wash me in his forgiveness. Remembering this also releases me from the snare and trap of the enemy leaving me free in Christ. ~1 Peter 1: 17-21 “…live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear…. it was not with perishable things …you were redeemed from the empty way of life…but with the precious blood of Christ…He was chosen before the creation of the world… through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” ~ Ephesians 1:7-8 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding.” ~ 1John1: 9-10 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us…”
Everyday is eternally focused. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”(Mathew 6:21) These words of Jesus ring true don’t they? Keeping our heart and head focused on where our real eternal treasure is difficult and takes determination. I struggle to fix my eyes on what is unseen because of the lure of the seen is so tangible and tempting even though it is temporary. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “ Therefore do not lose heart…outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day…our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen…what is unseen is eternal.”
Available and aware. This principle reminds us “it’s not all about me”. Though I will make plans for my days and weeks it is the desire of my heart that the Lord will direct my feet. Some days it is evident that the Lord has better plans for the day than I do. My response to his redirection reveals my heart attitude toward being available for the Lord’s purposes and determined to press on in difficult circumstances. It also is evidence of my sensitivity to the teaching of the Holy Spirit. I must remain available to do the good works the Lord has prepared for me in advance. I also need to be aware of his leading and the needs of others in my life. ~Philippians 3: 13-14 “…Forgetting what is behind and straining…I press on toward the goal…for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” John 14:26 “…the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send… will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you.”
Trust with thanksgiving. Philippians 4:6-7 sums this up. We are not to be anxious or worry about anything. Rather we are to trust God wholeheartedly with everything. To not be anxious means trusting God through petitioning in prayer and believing he is able with a thankful attitude. This is not easy but I do breathe more easily when I practice this principle.
Humbly resist. Resist what? The temptation of pride to take control and live like I don’t believe God is able. Pride is the root of all sin and it is the hardest for us to detect in ourself. A heart of humility helps us live selflessly and resist the tendency to control and capitalize for personal benefit. Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 3:7 “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.” 1John 2: 16-17 “For everything in the world- lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life- comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
Exhale. Exhale everything into His hands and exclaim His excellence. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) When we take time to exhale, we are able to maintain an attitude of worship and experience the peace of the Lord in relationship with him. I am able to see him at work in the big and little things of life. Then I am moved to worship him with my life.
Take the time to review the principle verses that speak to where you are in your relationship with the Lord.
Armor Up, pride down, Pray Always
John Maxwell Team Certified inspirational speaker and author