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Better Than ‘All or Nothing’

14 Jul

I continue to struggle with my “soft food addiction,” especially hoarding chocolate candy, cookies and other sweet things. (It’s not that I can’t ever have something sweet, but it is a dangerous area for me.)

But one Wednesday during an appointment, I told Kim, my nutritionist, “I finally got rid of all the junk food in my house.”

Kim looked surprised and pleased. “I’m so proud of you,” she said. “Was it hard?”

“No, not really,” I said. “I ATE it all!”

I’m sort of an all-or-nothing person.  Some days I’m “all in” and thriving physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Other days, not so much.

I’ve discovered one sinful habit or attitude in one area cascades into other areas, and soon I’m walking far off the righteous path the Lord has designed for me. The path of life.

It was just a little sin, I rationalize. But it still was sin if the Lord told me “no.” And all sin is continuing evidence of how much I need Him.

I love the American Dream, but for a long time I carried over the concept of independence into my walk with God.

I thought, “The more I’m independent—the less I have to call upon the Lord for help—this will be evidence of spiritual maturity.”

That couldn’t have been more foolish.

The true sign of spiritual maturity is

greater understanding of our need

and growing dependence on the Lord.

So I’m learning to step back and evaluate why I ran ahead of God … why I made a decision without consulting Him … why I lagged behind in disobedience … why I mindlessly walked through life.

It’s usually about some form of pride, selfishness, willfulness or outright rebellion. But sometimes it’s just forgetfulness. I forget how needy I truly am. 

In “performance mode,” I bounce back and forth between legalism and giving up.

In those times, I ultimately am most desperate.

But I’m learning to walk under God’s protective grace:

Observing, confessing and correcting. Not beating myself up. Moving forward in grace and trusting Him.

There is no condemnation in Christ, but there are constant opportunities to learn to depend on Him.

For everything.

Just as my silly conversation with Kim indicated, I have often made foolish choices.

But I’m learning to keep in step with the Spirit. 

How? It’s a process:

  1. Acknowledge – I admit your errors and mistakes; confess my sins. (Again, this is not a matter of beating myself up!)
  2. Accept – I receive the forgiveness I have in Christ.
  3. Allow – I let God’s grace flood over me, encouraging me; I remember what Christ has done for me!
  4. Adjust – I correct my thoughts, attitudes and behavior. It’s a matter of becoming obedient to God’s Word and will, and walking in the Spirit afresh. It’s a walk in freedom!

All-or-nothing? No.

The better perspective is ALL-IN-ALL.

This song expresses what’s in my heart as I think about this today:

“You are my strength when I am weak.

You are the treasure that I seek.

You are my all in all.”

(“You Are My All in All,” sung here

by David Phelps/Gaither Vocal Band.)

Jesus wants to be my Everything.

And I sincerely want that too. Even when I stray. Even when I mess up.

I want to be a woman after God’s own heart.

Why? I’m learning He is my strength, my wisdom, my victory, my only hope and so much more.

Is this your heart too? Is Jesus your “all in all?

 

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

 

 

 

How Can We Be Perfect?

8 Nov

I love these “perfect” one-liners:ImPerfekt_Not

  • “No one is perfect – that’s why pencils have erasers.”
  • “I’m a nobody. Nobody is perfect. Therefore, I’m perfect.”
  • “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change OFTEN!” – Winston Churchill

I was thinking about Matthew 5:48, which tells us to be “perfect.”

Is that ever possible in this world?

Pastor Daniel Harrell wrote about his efforts – along with 19 members of his congregation – to spend 30 days “living Levitically.” He describes, in How to Be Perfect, their experiment to understand some of the biblical commands in the book of Leviticus. How would Jesus have obeyed this book? How can we, like our Lord, live perfectly for the Father?

Their ultimate goal was holiness, but in the process, they discovered their “overwhelming need for God’s grace” in order to obey the book’s precepts.

Paul said, in Galatians 3:24, the law was meant to be a guardian, watching over us until the Messiah came. (Some scholars say the word is “school master” or “tutor,” but too many envision a tutor-taskmaster with a big stick, trying to keep someone in line! The clearer translation of the word paidagógos is guardian or trainer.) In the ancient world, a legally-appointed paidagógos took care of a wealthy family’s children (until the children matured), guiding them toward maturity and helping them make wise moral choices.

Paul was saying the law was given to protect us until the Messiah would come to justify us by faith. Another function of the law was to show sinners their dreadful condition without the Savior. No one can keep the law well enough to be right with God (Galatians 3:11; Romans 3:10-12).

But it’s important to remember: The law was meant to be a servant, not a cruel taskmaster.

So the scriptures teach us, the law was put in charge of us to lead us to Christ. The Holy Spirit used the law to convict sinners and illustrate the need for Redeemer and the mercy of God. But after faith in Jesus comes – when we receive Him as our Savior and Lord – we are no longer in need of this special “guardian” (Galatians 3:25-26).

Harrell wrote: “… The Levitical month ended up not being about our ability to obey enough, but about our ability to trust God enough to live the life He’s determined to be the best life to live.”

How do we live a life “set apart” to God so it shows up every day? What in our lives points people to the Lord?

It is Christ in His resurrection power living in us, not the power of the law, that makes the difference (Galatians 2:19-20).

The conclusion of Harold’s book?

“By His grace we are saved. By His grace we obey. It’s the only way to be perfect.”

Being perfect is all about God’s grace. It’s about his gracious work in us …

  • giving us a Savior,
  • changing our hearts,
  • encouraging us to live righteous lives, and ultimately,
  • making us like His Son in Heaven.

Are you resting in the wonderful grace of God today? It’s the only way to become “perfect.”

– Dawn

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