Family Tree Tangles

17 Feb

I get a kick out of all those ancestry sites on television lately—people finding out more about their extended family tree. It reminded me of some humor I saw last year:

I sent that “Ancestry” site some information on my family tree. They sent me back a packet of seeds and suggested I just start over!*

There’s a real truth in the midst of that humor!

newseeds_lolwithgod_diyseedpacketgraphic_adapted_almostmakesperfect-com

For many years, I tried to grow something beautiful out of my life with a lot of self-effort. I read oodles of self-help books and listened to self-improvement tapes.

There was a lot of insight in those resources, the problem was, it’s really hard to grow something beautiful from bad seed.

I was still, as the scriptures say, “in Adam,” and that made beautiful growth hopeless (1 Corinthians 15:22a; Romans 5:19a)

Adam brought sin into the world with his disobedience to the Lord’s command. His sin resulted in condemnation and spiritual death. Because of Adam, all humanity is born in sin. Adam was the “federal head” of the human race, and with his sin, all of humanity was separated from God, deserving only spiritual death. 

Like the self-righteous Pharisees (John 8:44), I could make some progress, but even then, it was often with wrong motives. Like the Pharisees, I was inwardly a rebel against the Lord—just like proud, self-focused Satan (Isaiah 14:13-14).

I had to face the fact that I was addicted to sin. I was in bondage to it.

I had to come to the point where I realized an important truth:

I didn’t need self-help. I needed God-help!

I needed the life and power to change that only comes in Jesus Christ.

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19)

My desire for never-ending self-help ended for me on September 7, 1971, when I received the gift of life in Christ.

In Christ, I am a new creation. When I received His grace, I was made righteous. (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:4-6; John 1:12-13).

To be in Christ, means I was “with Him” in his death, burial and resurrection—the payment for my sin. Now I am a “joint heir” with Him, and I am placed into “the body of Christ”. I am forgiven, no longer separated from God, and free from bondage to sin. (Romans 6:3-5; 8:17; Ephesians 3:1-6; Colossians 1:14: Ephesians 2:12-13; John 8:36; Romans 8:2)

Although I still want to grow and change, I know I cannot make choices for eternity without the Lord. I know I am made “the righteousness of God in Him.” I am set apart and made holy for His use and complete in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 2:9-10)

It’s a totally different perspective. The old seed was destroyed and the Lord planted “new seed” in my heart.

This new seed grows, strengthens, empowers, makes change possible, and encourages me to love, bless and serve others (Ephesians 1:16-21; 3:16; Romans 6:4, 14; Ephesians 5:8).

The Lord works in me “both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

I can cooperate with faith and obedience, but I know it is only God who cultivates His new seed within me.

Are you operating from bad seed? Are you still caught up in self-help? Is it time for some new seed?

 – Dawn

 * Cybersalt Digest, Issue 4027, 2/12/15, Oneliner #0984

Graphic adapted, used with permission: DIY Seed packet (http://almostmakesperfect.com/2015/05/12/diy-seed-packets-with-free-printable/)

 

Maybe I Need Bible Homework

28 Jan

I read about a school’s homework policy. Sounds funny, but maybe it’s true!

Students should not spend more than 90 minutes per night.

This time should be budgeted in the homeworkpolicy_lolwithgod_patriceaudet_pixabayfollowing manner:

  • 15 minutes looking for assignment.
  • 11 minutes calling a friend for the assignment.
  • 23 minutes explaining why the teacher is mean and just does not like children.
  • 8 minutes in the bathroom.
  • 10 minutes getting a snack.
  • 7 minutes checking the TV Guide.
  • 6 minutes telling parents that the teacher never explained the assignment.
  • 10 minutes sitting at the kitchen table waiting for Mom or Dad to do the assignment. *

Sounds about right.

For some people. Not for me. I remember how much I got done as a student. I actually liked to study in school. I’d shut out distractions and shut myself away with my books until I grasped what was important.

And because I had homework, I learned a lot more than if I had left my education to chance.

At one point, I thought, “Maybe I need Bible homework.”

Paul told Timothy,

“Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth” (1 Timothy 2:15, Amplified).

It’s not that I wasn’t “in my Bible.” I’m in it all the time for my job, for blogs I write, and for general reading (and lately, memorizing).

But studying to learn… studying for God’s approval… studying to be a better teacher?

Not so much.

Because of my job and other responsibilities, I can’t go to the official women’s Bible studies at church. But that’s just a reason for my lack of study, not an excuse.

I can educate myself in biblical truth at home. I’ve got oodles of books and commentaries and several Bible translations on my shelves. And I have the Holy Spirit within me, the best teacher of all (1 John 2:27).

So I’ve started giving myself homework.

  • I assign a passage and answer questions about the text.
  • I write little essays.
  • I apply what I learn – I figure out practical ways to use what I learn.
  • And the Lord sees to it that I am “tested” on the things I say I believe!

Why should I study scripture?

I am accountable to the Lord for what I learn about His Word … or fail to learn.

Learning just takes a plan and the desire to execute that plan.

It takes seeking and responding to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and not carrying out the desires of our distracting flesh (Galatians 5:16).

I need to shut off the TV, switch off Facebook, get out of the kitchen, and get busy studying.

I’ve got homework!

Do you need Bible homework too? When are you going to get started?

 ~ Dawn

 * “Homework Policy,” Cybersalt News, January 28, 2015, CybersaltDigest

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Pixabay

The Doctor Is In

7 Jan

One day, Emma felt terribly ill, so she was glad her doctor was in. The doctor checked her out, prescriptions_orangepills_dmwilson_lolwithgodsmiled, and then left the room.

A few minutes later, the doctor’s assistant returned with three bottles of pills. Emma looked surprised.

“You need to take the green pill with a big glass of water when you first wake up,” the medical assistant said. “Then take the yellow pill with water after lunch. And right before you head to bed, take the orange pill with another glass of water.”

Emma, suddenly overcome with fear, blurted out, “This is terrible! What’s wrong with me? Why do I have to take so much medicine?”

“Oh, it’s not about the meds,” the assistant said. “You’re just not drinking enough water!”

LOL!

Sometimes the simplest solutions are best, but we miss them. So we get a lot of “prescriptions” that are likely unnecessary.

[Don’t misunderstand me. I am all for medical prescriptions that are needed, often crucial. But some healing doesn’t require “meds” at all. Spiritually speaking, there might be something else we’re missing.]

God, our Great Physician, hears our hurts and HE is the best prescription for our “heart needs.”

We may clamor for other “prescriptions.” We may think we need something from God. But the truth is, we need God Himself.

Jesus said, “apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

But He also said, “You refuse to come to me” (John 5:40). (Foolish, right?)

That second scripture is true of lost humanity that rejects Christ. But in one sense, it’s also true for the believer.

We scurry around looking for other solutions in our times of need. Sometimes we even make good things—our church, our Bibles, our ministry—little gods in our lives, hoping they can solve our issues.

We only come running to the Lord when all else fails us. We’re so slow to learn.

John 15:5 is changing my life. I keep telling myself, over and over, “Remember: without Jesus, you can’t do anything!”

I know in my heart this is true for all of us.

Even our goodness, apart from Jesus, is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6a).

Our best efforts are futile because they won’t last; nothing is eternal that is not connected to Him (1 John 2:17; 2 Peter 3:10-12).

John Piper shared the example of a paralyzed man who could do nothing for himself but talk. But a strong and reliable friend came to live with the man and help him. The paralyzed man had nothing but praise for this caring friend.

That is how I must see my state.

I can do nothing apart from the grace of God. But who can tell what I might do IN His grace?

I can only bear fruit in my life and ministry when I come to God in prayer in my time of need (Hebrews 4:16) and rest in my position in Christ.* And when I do, this glorifies the Father (John 15:7-8). And my heart fills with praise to Him.

The Doctor is in, but we must come to Him.

Is there any area of your life where you’re still trying to go it alone? Do you need a “come to the Doctor” moment?

* Some of the scriptures that tell the believer what it’s like to be “in Christ” – Romans 8:1-2; Ephesians 1:3; 2:6; Colossians 1:13; 3:1, 3; Philippians 4:13.

Also: see my Heart Choices Today post about being “in Christ.”

~ Dawn

 

 

 

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