We Reap What We Sow

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“For we must all stand before Christ to be judged.  We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in our bodies.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

I am having to deal with a consequence from my past actions.  I like to refer to this time in my life as the “second half of my life”.  The first half of my life had many joys and sorrows, and many, many negative consequences.  The second part of my life is just now beginning.  I am literally starting over in life.  Starting over and nearly 50 years old is not easy, but certainly very humbling.  There are currently things in my life that God is healing me from.  It takes time.  So long as I am obedient to His Word, the worry and fear will disappear.

God’s Word tells us that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of those sins.  Where would I be without His amazing grace and love?  Probably still in the gutter.  Where would I be without His mercy?  Probably still in the throws of my addictions.  God is my everything and without Him I am nothing.  I know that now.

I love helping people.  I would rather go without if it meant it could help someone in need.  I want to bring value to a person’s life no matter how destitute.  I want them to know they are loved and they matter.  This is an attitude totally opposite of how I once lived my life.  Living the life of an addict consists of what I want, when I want and how I want it.  By the grace of God, I’m not living my life like this anymore, one day at a time.

But I have a problem.

I am not able to go into any type of nursing or caregiving field because of a charge on my record.  It’s a charge that cannot be expunged and this will follow me my whole life.  It doesn’t matter that I turned my life around.  So an entire field of study is out of the question for me.  I’m reaping what I sow, and it hurts.

So here I am again, going through a test.  I’m so tired of tests!  But it’s my own doing.  It’s a hard lesson.  Peter writes a wonderful passage in 2 Peter 1:5-8,

“So make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to your life.  Then your faith will produce a life of moral excellence.  A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better.  Knowing God leads to self-control.  Self-control leads to patient endurance and patient endurance leads to godliness.  Godliness leads to love for other Christians, and finally you will become productive and useful in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I want to be productive and useful in some way.  I’m not able to do it in the manner I wanted but I put my faith and trust in Him that He will make all things come together for good.  It’s what God wants now, not what I want.  I just hope I can pass the test this time.

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Results of an Established Life

What does it mean to “to be established” in God?  Established means to make firm, stable, secure, settled, be fixed upon, steadfast.  When you are established in God, negative circumstances will no longer immobilize you.  Where there was once confusion, now there is confidence.  Fear is replaced by faith.  The Apostle Paul encourages us in Colossians 2:7 to,

“Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving.”

Notice this verse and all the action phrases: deeply planted, being continually built, becoming increasingly more, abounding in and overflowing in.  These are “doing” words.  We are instructed to be doers of the Word (James 1:22).  In order to be established in God we will have to be actively doing what the Bible tells us.  We have to:

~ Reject doubt and embrace belief.  Unbelief hinders you from receiving solutions to your problem.  God tells us that if we adhere to, trust in, and rely on Him we will enter His rest (Hebrews 3:19).  Doubt will cut us off from His blessings.  The opposite of belief is doubt.  The enemy loves to put doubt in our minds.  If the devil can keep us doubting ourselves, doubting if it’s God’s voice we hear, doubting our inner knowing, then the devil is doing his job and he’s winning.  I’m tired of letting the devil win in my life.  I’ve allowed that to happen for way too many years.  It’s time to reject doubt and put our confidence in God.

~ Obey and live righteously.  The result of obedience is righteousness. “In righteousness you shall be established…” (Isaiah 43:14)  To be established in God we have to be obedient which in turn makes us right with God.  In my pastor’s sermon yesterday he asked the congregation, “Are you right with God?”  For the first time in a long time I felt comfortable saying “Yes, I am right with God.”

~ Look at the direction of your life – Are you thinking of the consequences of each decision?  Do you act before you think?  Proverbs 4:26 tells us, “Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established”.  Sometimes we get caught in a difficult situation because we didn’t think first and made a decision too quickly.  Remember, today’s decisions will determine your tomorrow.

~ Be grounded in your faith. We need to be grounded in the basic doctrines of God’s Word.  Know your Bible, know the Truth, and follow what you have been taught.

The result of being established in God is security and stability.  Oh, how I wanted to be stable and secure!  The way I had lived my life in the past was like standing on shaky ground.  Have you ever been in a fun house at your county fair?  Do you remember walking on the floor that kept moving under your feet, shifting up, down and sideways?  You would have to hold onto the railing to stabilize yourself in order to walk across it?  When I was using, that’s what my life felt like every day, every hour, every minute.  Except I didn’t use the railings to secure myself.  I would just try and make it across the moving floor all by myself.  I failed every time.  It wasn’t until I grabbed a hold of the railing, my Lord Jesus Christ, was I able to make it across that shaky floor.

I longed for stability and a sense of security, yet I wasn’t willing to give up my destructive lifestyle.  Why it took me so long to finally give it up just baffles me.  But I don’t keep my mind on that.  I can’t.  If I do, I get stuck in it and it’s not a good place to be.  I wasted so many years trying to figure out the “why”.  Forget it.  It’s of no use.  I had to ask for forgiveness and I had to forgive myself and not look back.  How can I move forward if I’m always looking back?  I can’t, so I keep my eyes on Jesus, His Truth, and doing the next right thing with a hope that I can be a positive influence in someone’s life.

No more shaky ground.  My feet are planted and rooted in Him.  I am nowhere near where I want to be but I keep moving foward, believing in Him and His ways, rejecting doubt and being established in God.  It’s a good place to be!

The Proper Response To God’s Grace

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As believers, we obey God because He loves us and know that He wants to help us succeed in this life.  Once we realize how much He loves us, we are motivated to trust in Him.  God provides the power for us to live godly life. 

The proper response to God’s grace is right conduct.

The apostle Paul writes in Titus 2:12,

 “And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures.  We should live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God.”

 I always find it intriguing how Scripture written 2000 years ago can still apply in the crazy world we live in now.  Obviously, men’s (and women’s) hearts back then are in the same shape as our hearts are today.  Our world has definitely evolved since Paul wrote this letter to Titus back in A.D. 63-66, yet we can relate to what Paul is talking about and apply it to our lives here in 2018.

 Paul goes on to say in verse 13,

 “…we look forward to that wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.”

There is an excellent payoff to being a Christian and working hard at having self control and right conduct.  That payoff is the “blessed hope” of Christ’s glorious return.  I certainly look forward to it and can’t wait to hear those 3 sounds talked about in 1 Thess 4:16.  We will hear 3 sounds as Christ descend from heaven:

●  A shout.

●  The voice of the archangel.

●  The trumpet of God.

Talk about a grand entrance!  God’s grace is for everyone on earth.  God desires for all people to be saved.

“For the grace of God has been revealed brining salvation to all people.” (Titus 2:11)

None of us deserve God’s mercy and grace but it is available to everyone because of what Christ did on the cross.  Having self-control and living a godly life involves daily devotion and commitment.

The devil wants us to focus on how little we have grown spiritually.  One of the lies he tells me is, “You should be allot further along by now, Michele.”  It’s a trick to stifle my self-confidence and get me to feel guilty.  When feeling like this, I get upset with myself and I am playing right into the lie.  If I were to keep believing this lie, I become an unproductive follower of Christ.

If we want to have any kind of chance in this evil world, we need to focus instead on how far we have come.  God’s amazing grace gives us the confidence we need to live a godly life, have right conduct and the power and strength we need to accomplish any kind of right behavior.

 

 

The Confidence Killer

Satan is the enemy to those who want to follow Christ, to those who are called according to God’s purpose.  Satan is the enemy even to unbelievers.  We as Christians know that the devil hates us.  He hates us because we love God.  I wish unbelievers knew just how much Satan really hates them too.  He may “appear” to be happy with them because of their pride, immorality, and material possessions.  But he hates them just the same.  Satan likes to see people do his work on this planet, whether they are Christian or not.

Satan’s true hatred is toward the Almighty God.  He wants to do everything he can to us so that we grieve the Holy Spirit, demean Jesus Christ, whatever it takes.

I think what the devil loves most is stealing and destroying any kind of joy in a Christian’s life.  I think he gets his biggest kicks out of doing this to us.  Sometimes I feel like I fall so easily to this sneaky trick.  Doesn’t it anger you to think he does this?  Even worse, we allow him to do it!

One way Satan kills our joy is to doubt ourselves.  I’ve been doing this allot lately!  And quite frankly, I’m tired of allowing him to steal my confidence and my joy.  Today was a very stressful day at work but I find my peace and rest when spending time with the Lord and reading his Word.  The Lord has been reminding me that He is there and will take care of me; to not stress and to do the best I can.  God will even put people in our presence to give us encouragement and to remind us that He is watching and is with us.

I had a customer tell me that I have a “light” about me.  Comes to find out, they were a Christian and we had a quick talk about Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  It made my day for someone to see me like this.  I wasn’t sure I ever really portrayed a difference by my mannerisms.  It reaffirmed my love for Christ and that even in the midst of chaos we can still allow Jesus to shine through us for strangers to see.  Satan tried to steal my confidence and joy that day but,

 “Greater is He that is in me, than he that is the world”.

….take THAT Satan.