Archive | February 2013

The Unity of the Body

Unity

 
“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”
~Ephesians 4:1-5~
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Unity comes from the Latin term, ūnitās, which means “one”. According to Ephesians 4:3, we are to be “diligent in preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
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This is a lot easier said than done. Too often our ego’s or emotions get in the way of being unified in the Spirit. I’ve been guilty of this myself. Life would be so much easier if I could just put aside my own differences and practice peace. I don’t know which is more dangerous: outwardly warring with one another or holding a grudge and poisoning the thoughts of others against an individual.
..This isn’t much different than what many of us put our own body’s through. We fight with our own identity and forget that our body has many functions and each works according to the duty it is called to function. We look at the imperfections of the body God has given us and don’t see the grand scheme of things. We see our flabby arms, oversized backside, overlapping gut, double chin, and crooked teeth. We are so caught in being self-critical that we don’t see how beautifully and wondrously God has made us.
1 Corinthians 12:22 says, “On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary;” We forget that there is a place for everything on the body and within the body of Christ. Some of us may be crippled and scarred but we are still a necessity to the body. We need to be reminded of our humanity for the sake of recognizing who God is. God is definitely what we are not. God is infinite, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. God has designed us to be relational. Ultimately He wants our unity to be with Him through Christ with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
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We are called to unity. He calls us to obedience. It’s a choice we can choose to make. All of us have this in common. We are meant to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
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Godly Training

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“For, the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
~1 Timothy 4:8~
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Just the other day I was wallowing in guilt. I couldn’t do my exercising yet again. My days consist of sitting in a reclined position or being in bed with pillows under my knees. The days that are good, I try to do things but I suffer from severe fatigue and pain afterwards that cause me to be bedridden all over again. It’s a never ending cycle of pain and fatigue.
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I judge myself harshly sometimes and forget that the training of my body has limited benefit. Being in God’s Word and obedient to Him is far more beneficial. Not all of us are able to exercise physically. It’s just not an option anymore. However, we can learn to seek and honor God in other ways.
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For example, each day I wake up and thank God for a new day. I read my Bible and do a devotional along with it. Currently, I’m in a weight loss program which encourages loving God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. I rely on Jesus Christ as the core of my success in this.
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My success isn’t measured in what I do or don’t do. It is measured in what Jesus did for me and that gives me the strength and the purpose to offer myself to Him fully.
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I am not perfect. In fact, I’m far from it. However, I know that God will give me the strength to accomplish His will for me throughout the day. I may not be able to exercise but I can still be mindful of my health in other ways. I am careful what I eat and even when I’m not, I’m still aware of what I’m eating. I don’t consider food my enemy anymore. I consider it God’s provision for my body.
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I focus on things that are good and I don’t dwell on negative thoughts. I do have negative thoughts but I express them and pray about them. I choose to find the good in every circumstance. Yes, even the bad circumstances. I can give so many personal examples of God’s power over healing my mind. Life stinks at times but God is always good.
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I struggle with Major Depressive Disorder among other things. However, I am aware that my emotions do not have to dictate my actions. I acknowledge my emotions. I cry, I get mad; I get desperate, and even happy. But those are fleeting. Through everything, I still have joy. Joy is so much deeper than my emotions because it is born of hope. I never lose hope because my hope is in Jesus.
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Jesus is the one who holds the promise for me of a life to come. I may not be able to play volleyball ever again. I may never be able to hike up a mountain again. I’m okay with that because I know that I’m climbing a spiritual mountain. I know my faith is being exercised. After all, godliness is beneficial in every way.

What Is My Purpose?

different-directions
 
I have so much going on in my mind right now. I just started doing my course for Extraordinary Women. I went into this study with the desire to use it to minister to other women I come in contact with. I did not expect to get the double blessing of learning things for myself and my heart being touched to change my own ways in things.
One question that resonates within me is “What do I believe is the purpose of my life?”. At one time I would answer that question simply. I would tell people I was an administrative assistant for the Vice President of Operations for a global company. But was that my purpose? No. That was my job. It is not who I am. I am a mother so I could say my purpose in life is to be the best mother that I can be. Again, that’s just a part of who I am. I’m a mother, a friend, and about to get remarried but these are not my purposes.
.In this day and age, people believe our identity is what we say, do, and think. They believe our purpose in life is to work at life, do the best we can with what we have, and hopefully, when the time comes for us to no longer be here, we’ll have done enough to meet the requirements God has set for humankind. So, again, what is our purpose?
.If people saw me today, they would probably think my life doesn’t have much purpose. Quite honestly, I used to believe that of myself. You see, I have an autoimmune deficiency which keeps me from being able to work. My life consists of sitting in a recliner or being in bed. I struggle with severe fatigue and pain most of the time.
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To those who have their health, I might be considered nothing but a barnacle on society. I just kind of grow on people but I don’t really have a purpose, according to them.
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I beg to differ. My purpose in life is to love God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. My purpose is to boldly share my hope in Christ without reservation. My purpose is to know that I have a purpose because God created me. My purpose is to share with you that you are deeply loved and have a purpose as well. God wants a relationship with you. It’s not all about what we can and cannot do; it’s about what Jesus did for us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).
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I’ve heard that verse since I was a little child. Each season of my life it takes on a deeper meaning. I realize my salvation is not based on what I do or who I am. It is based only on Jesus and who He is.

Fragile Girl

By Carol DeForest Shinde
 
I look in the mirror.
What do I see?
I see dark brown eyes, fair skin.
I see freckles and scars.
Scars visible and invisible.
I see the little girl inside of me.
I am older but still seek approval.
“Am I pretty, Mommy?”
“Will I ever measure up to your standards?”
“Will you protect me, Daddy?”
All I hear is,
“Are you going to eat that?”
“Why didn’t you go to church?”
“I don’t think you can do that.”
The looks I’m given.
Judgment passed.
Guilt received.
“You’ll never measure up.”
“My standards are too high.”
I’m ugly.
I’m overweight.
I’m useless in this body of mine.
Fragile Girl, don’t you know?
You are loved unconditionally
By a Heavenly Father 
Who adopted you.
You are a queen and cleansed
with the noble blood of Jesus.
Fragile Girl, you are stronger
Than you think.
You are accepted
Flaws and all.
Covered by the stains of Jesus’ blood.
Don’t be sad anymore.
Stop comparing yourself to others.
You are not broken.
You are not damaged goods.
You are precious to God.
Let Him fill the emptiness.
Let Him heal your hurts.
Fragile Girl, don’t you know?
You are loved for who you are.

How Do We Pray?

Somehow, “get well soon” just doesn’t cut it. I have to ask myself what I would like. Being that I do have several chronic health issues, I appreciate the prayers of others. I often tell people that God allows their prayers to sustain me. Prayer truly does work.But what if the prayer we’re praying isn’t within the will of our Heavenly Father? What then? 

I think it is only natural that any of us pray for healing. After all, none of us like being ill. However, sometimes our immediate healing isn’t within the plan that God has for us. Sometimes He chooses to allow us to go through what we go through so we can learn to rely on Him. 

When I pray, I often say, “If it is within Your will to heal me, Lord, than please do so. However, if it is not meant to be, help me to learn from this and rely on Your perfect plan.”Believe me, the last thing I want is to stay sick but if it’s meant to grow me into being more like Jesus than I will willingly accept His plan. I say this with a lump in my throat and a knot in my gut because I hate suffering. 

Do I trust the Lord? Can I trust Him EVEN with my suffering? Can I trust Him in the midst of my suffering? I know for a fact that I do and I can.

My ultimate desire is to be more like Christ. Sometimes our suffering is the stepping stone within our pathway of life. I pray the Lord will teach me not to let it be my stumbling block.

So, again, how do we pray? Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

We are also told in Romans 8:26-27, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” 

We do not need to worry about how to pray. When we have Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit is within us and He gives us the words. 

What a tremendous encouragement to know we can come to the God of all creation, through Christ and in the Holy Spirit. We do not have to fear what to say. We can talk to Him as a friend and know He hears us.

God Created the Craftsman and the Destroyer

Hephaestus__God_of_Blacksmiths_by_violscraper“Look, I have created the craftsman who blows on the charcoal fire and produces a weapon suitable for its task; and I have created the destroyer to work havoc. No weapon formed against you will succeed, and you will refute any accusation raised against you in
court. This is the heritage of the Lord’s servants, and their righteousness is from Me. This is the Lord’s declaration.”
                                                                                                          ~Isaiah 54:16-17~
These two verses just blew my mind. To think…God creates the craftman AND the destroyer. Whether the destroyer is an enemy of our country, our family, our friends, ourselves, OR Satan himself. God created the destroyer who works havoc in our lives. This is such a hard concept for me to conceive. Why? Why would a good and loving God create a destroyer? Why would God let the destroyer work havoc on us?
 
I believe it all comes down to God’s sovereignty. We often forget that God IS sovereign and NOTHING is outside of His control or plans. Even when we fall, the Lord makes our way perfect (Psalm 18:32). That is so comforting to realize. No matter how many times I mess up and falter in my steps, God makes my way perfect. He is able to turn even the worst into something so beautiful if we allow Him to change our hearts.
 
Isaiah 54:17 reaffirms that promise. I will refute ANY accusation raised against me in court because my righteousness is from God. The Lord declares this Himself. I picture myself standing before the throne of God. There before me is my Heavenly Father in ALL His glory…in ALL His awesomeness…in ALL His holiness.
 

In my own strength and self, I cannot bear His perfection or knowing. My throat is tight with anxiety  and fear. My heart is beating so quickly and I cannot look Him in the face. He is just too PURE. I cannot bear His glory without Jesus. I fall on my knees and bury my head in my hands. I weep and sob as I recognize my sin that is ever before me. Yet, then something miraculous happens. The crowd surrounding God’s throne parts and Jesus, the Lamb of God, walks forward.

He stands before me and touches my bowed head every so gently. I look up and He reaches out His hand to me. I look at it for a moment. I can see the hole on his wrist. I gently take His outstretched hand and He guides me to my feet. I am standing before the throne of God but it is no longer me and my sinfulness God is seeing. He see’s His beloved Son. He see’s Jesus standing before me and my sins are no longer there. I am cleansed. I am now the daughter of the Sovereign King. My heritage is my righteousness from God. He declares it before all and the accusations that were upon the destroyers tongue cannot harm me. They cannot touch me.
 
So, Why? Why would a loving God create a destroyer? Why would God let the destroyer work havoc on us? It’s simple. It was so Jesus could fulfill the prophecy of being our Messiah. It was so we, despite our rebelliousness, could come before God our sovereign Father without the fear of accusation raised in the court of heaven.
 
Life isn’t easy and God never said it would be. However, He has given me the shield of His salvation; His right arm upholds me, and His humility exalts me. (Psalm 18:35).

I Belong to Christ

 
“being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
~Philippian 1:6~
I was 13-years-old and in sixth grade. Our assignment was to write a note on a small piece of paper to each of our classmates. We were to say something positive and kind about who we were writing to. This seemed like an easy assignment. All I had to do was write something nice about 30 some odd kids I saw practically every day. Easy.
The following day we handed in our messages to the teacher. She separated each name accordingly and, at the end of the day, she passed them out to each student. I remember reading my notes and being filled with such happiness. People REALLY did like me and thought I was nice. I wasn’t as invisible as I thought I was. However, I opened up another note and it said in capital letters, “I HATE YOU. YOU’RE UGLY. I WISH YOU WERE DEAD!”.
I felt as if the wind had been knocked out of me with those words. My gut clenched and my heart raced. I fought to hold back the tears. You see, I already felt that way about myself and that one note just emphasized my own thoughts of myself. After all, I had only one close friend but everyone else were acquaintances. It hurt me so badly and I never forgot that note or the way I felt receiving it.
Years have gone by now and I can think about that note without the sadness. At least, I don’t have the sadness for myself. I feel sorry for the person who wrote that note. They must have had a horrendous childhood to be able to write something so hurtful and hateful. I realize now that it wasn’t me she was talking about but perhaps she felt that way about herself and was mirroring it onto me.

The thing that amazes me now is how quickly I forgot all those other good remarks and clung to that one hateful note. Depression is so much like that. We have an internal dialogue which plays constantly in our minds. When we struggle with self-image and depression at the same time it becomes toxic.

It says in Genesis 1:27, “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” It must just break God’s heart when He see’s His creation battle with this sense of false identity. Society just feeds into that falseness. We are encumbered with touched-up photo’s of models and celebrities. We are forced to see an illusion and begin to believe the lies ourselves. God looks into the heart of mankind and not the outward appearance. Outward beauty fades but inward beauty blossoms and becomes refined with age and maturity.
God promises to finish His good work in us. I find that so encouraging. I’m not perfect nor will I ever be in this lifetime. However, a day will come when we all will die and have to stand in the presence of God. Who will we be? Will we stand before God with shame and guilt or will Jesus stand before us in defense against our sins so His Father will see us through His own heavenly sight?
I believe what the Bible says and I believe who Jesus is. He is the one who gives me the confidence to stand tall in this life. I know I am forgiven and I am His. My life is no longer my own. It’s not because God is controlling me. It’s because He chose me to be His and I chose to believe this and strive to live my life according to the purpose Jesus has called me to. He longs for all of us to have a very personal relationship with Him. God is not distant. He is only a cross away.