Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journeyand cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing. James 1:2-4D
Wednesday, June 6, 2018
I gave my heart to Jesus twenty years ago but for many years I struggled to die to myself and to obey the teachings of Christ. Oh, I professed with my mouth that Jesus was Lord, but truth be told it was and still is a daily decision to surrender my will and pick up my cross and follow Christ. Surrendering to God isn't easy and anyone who says it is likely has not entered the narrow gate that Jesus talked about (Matthew 7:13).
After all this time of believing in Christ, the human in me can still love my life more than God. It's been a constant battle to die to my flesh because for many years I identified more with my life story, my past pain, my hurts, my regrets, my disappointments and sorrows of this life.
I realize now how early trauma in my life really affected my ability to see the good God had placed in me. For a lot of my life I focused on the negative parts of my story, I saw myself as flawed and broken, which I was.
Now, of course, it wasn't just negative things in my life where I was finding my identity, it was the good stuff too, like family, friends, jobs, ministry etc. I found my identity in it all, in fact, this is where my worth was rooted, and I somehow knew to lose this would leave me lost and empty. I feared surrender big time! For so long I held onto all of this life with all my might.
You see, for so long I didn't fully understand who I was in Christ. I didn't believe that Jesus would die for someone so unworthy. The truth is we aren't worthy that's why He died! He gave His life for everyone so we could be free to love the Father more than this life, which glorifies God and draws others to Him. Once the blinders come off you see how marvellous a plan it really is. All of creation continues to groan as God's plan for humankind unfolds.
Of course, I wasn't alone in my endeavour to not surrender my throne, need I remind you that the enemy of our souls Satan doesn't want us to see the truth of who we really are either. That we were fearfully and wonderfully made to glorify God in all His creation. The devil knows once we realize all this it sets us free from the trappings of this world.
Oh my, has God been patient with me!
"True love for God and true saving faith is evidenced by obedience to the teachings of Christ, not just emotionalism in the heart. What we feel in our hearts is often deceptive (Jeremiah 17:9). That's why we must filter out thoughts and experiences through the Word of God." ~Michael Chriswell~
I've really had to humble myself and face the fact that for a long time I loved myself more than God. I've cried a million tears over the years at church or in my prayer closet, as I acknowledged my brokenness and my need for my saviour, only to pick it all up again and leave God feeling unloved by me!
Wow! How selfish thy heart can be!
How many times have I done this? Aware of my need to surrender my life but so unwilling to follow Christ's teachings.
Daily trust and obedience -- is the key to surrender!
There are many teachings of Christ that He gave us to follow. I had to ask the question - do I really know them, let alone follow them? If I'm honest with myself the answer is no, and truth be told this might be why the Church does not have the influence it should today.
If Christ came to teach us to love, then why do so many in the world feel judged, hated and not loved by Christians? Do we really understand and know and understand those outside the Kingdom?
I know for myself, for many years I choose to follow man and religion and not the teachings of Jesus. I realize that really was because I loved my life more than I loved Jesus. I was getting my identity from attending Church and calling myself a Christian but I was not trusting and obeying God with my life and most of all I was not manifesting the Holy Spirit in my life. Some of this was pure ignorance and a lack of teaching but also it was my desire to keep self-alive.
Jesus said He who loves me will obey my teaching. When He prayed to God on behalf of all believers in John 17 he said in verse 23 "I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
For me this has been a gradual process and still is-- daily surrender of my life and will, not for my own glory but because I truly love Jesus and not myself.
This is what it means to trust in the Lord and lean not on my own understanding. It's picking up my cross and carrying it's daily. It's laughing at the devil when he attacks knowing he's already defeated and that his attacks make me stronger and help me realize that its God who fights my battles not me. It's loving someone whose lifestyle and beliefs are different than mine. It's seeing God in every corner of creation. It's valuing humanity as much as God does and loving because He first loved me.
God is love...
I understand now why Jesus asked Peter (John 21) so many times if he loved Him. Jesus knew Peter wasn't fully surrendered at this point. He may have had the faith to believe that Jesus was the Messiah they had hoped for, but Peter still had not fully surrendered His life to follow Jesus no matter what. Of course, we know the rest of that story and how it ended. If you don't know it or haven't read it for awhile, read it over today and let it speak to you, are you like Peter? Do you love this life more than Jesus?
I'm just like Peter, perhaps we all are at some point along the narrow gate. Perhaps you like me have had to face the consequences of loving your life and this world more than God. Take heart dear traveller for God knows and understands us more than we will ever know.
Today just humbly lay your broken heart at His feet, let go of your pride and self-reliance. Seek His face because your heavenly Father knows what you need before you even ask.
May you know His love fully and allow yourself to trust and obey our Saviour and King today!
Many blessings along the narrow gate! ~Laura Sterling - www. narrowgatetraveller.com
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”
Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay are those who gain riches by unjust means. When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end they will prove to be fools.
A glorious throne, exalted from the beginning, is the place of our sanctuary.
Lord, you are the hope of Israel; all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust
because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.
Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.
They keep saying to me “Where is the word of the Lord? Let it now be fulfilled!”
I have not run away from being your shepherd; you know I have not desired the day of despair. What passes my lips is open before you.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to surrender all to you, to obey and trust you today not with just our emotions but with all our hearts. Amen!
Scriptures for Healing what ails you! stand on the promises of God today! Speak life! No matter what the doctors have said you are healed - oh blessed child of God!
“To be spoken by mouth three times a day until faith comes, then once a day to maintain faith. If circumstances grow worse, double the dosage. There are no harmful side effects.”
If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.
And ye shall serve the Lord your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee. There shall nothing cast their young, nor be barren, in thy land: the number of thy days I will fulfil.
Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle. And the Lord will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee.
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
1 Kings 8:56
Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.
Psalm 91:9-10, 14-16
Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.
Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 107:17, 19-21
Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.
My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Then said the Lord unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.
Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.
For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord.
Beat your ploughshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.
What do ye imagine against the Lord? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time.
And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them: insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.
Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.
And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?
There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.
How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (as it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about a hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: 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.
Romans 8:2, 11
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
2 Corinthians 4:18
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
Galatians 3:13-14, 29
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.