Who Is Really in Control?

Attempting to control life is an impossible task. Panic attacks, endless worry, attempting to manipulate people and events, and using anger or condescension or guilt to control people’s responses and behavior are all exercises in futility.

 

Controlling also alienates us from the affections of our loved ones. They either cringe when we come around, avoid us or tune us out to protect themselves from what they perceive as emotional abuse.

 

This all stems from a deep seated fear in our soul that life will overcome us and we will drown in despair. Leaving life in God’s capable hands is the only way to face life with confidence and victory (Exodus 14:4; Psalm 127:1; Hebrews 11:6).

 

Living with the knowledge that we truly are incapable, frail and powerless, we thrive in a life of praise for God’s bountiful provision for us in every area of life – physical, financial, emotional, spiritual and mental (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

 

We are confident of His divine presence, power and majesty in our spirit, which conforms our soul by the sanctifying power of His Holy Spirit until we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

 

We come to the end of our self and God reveals to us that we are no longer separated from Him, but living in union with Him to the degree that we will allow Him to function in and through us by His Holy Spirit.

 

He fills us through all of our being with all of His fullness (Ephesians 3:16-19, Amplified Bible). We represent Him in our world, because He keeps us, teaches us and showers us with His love, unity and grace (Psalm 121; Jude 24, 1 John 2:27, 4:17)

 

Prayer:

Father God, thank You for providing each of us with a breaking point in our life that allows us to leave this earthly realm by Your Spirit and to see and hear the heavenly realm right here in our world. We see things from the perspective of Your heart and we walk in the power of Your might; not lifted up with human pride but motivated and empowered in meekness by Your sacred heart (Matthew 5:5).

 

You stripped us of our self-sufficiency and taught us that we cannot ever control life or manipulate people enough to feel safe in this world. Once we realize our insufficiency, You are our sole sufficiency (2 Corinthians 3:5). Life may still make us nervous and the unknown future may still shoot a bolt of terror through our heart, but You teach us to entirely place our every care on Your strong shoulders, because You always care for us.

 

Thought for the Day:
No concern of ours is too small or complicated for God to use to shower us with His blessings, once we totally surrender to His will in all things – whether we suffer deprivation or we rejoice with every good and perfect gift, which comes only from God.

 

Falling in Love More Each Day

When we walk in the light of God’s truth, everyone can see our good works; but rather than extolling us for our efforts, they will give the Glory to God (John 3:21; Matthew 5:16).

 

People know there is something different about a Believer – at least they should know we are different from the world, unless we are still walking in the flesh (Galatians 5:15-26).

 

However, there is a great deal more to our walk with Christ than surviving trials and doing good works. Our intimacy with God increases daily, through deprivation and abundance.

 

We learn wisdom from His guidance and we fall in love with Him more and more each day. Throughout times of both oppression and victory, our walk remains at a steady gait, because of our personal relationship with the God of the universe.

 

Even when we think we are experiencing a dry spell, this is only a time of companionable silence with the Lord. He is waiting for us to break out in songs of praise and words of love and adoration for all He means to us and all that He does for us – even all the little things, which we often do not notice or tend to take for granted.

 

Moses warned the Israelites of this very thing. They continually took God for granted, especially during peace-filled times of blessing and tranquility. Humans always tend to trust in their own resources, especially during good times; and then we fall into the rut of selfishness and pride (Deuteronomy 8:10-18).

 

We see from the Israelite’s wandering in the desert that we often bring trials and hardships on our self. We reap the negative attitudes and behavior, which we allow Satan to perpetuate in our thoughts, words and actions.

 

However, our goal is to walk through each day trusting in the guidance of God’s Spirit. This way we side-step the pitfalls and rejoice continually in His blessings in both the lean and the bountiful times.

 

Prayer:

Father God remind us to continually trust in You, and to follow Your direction for each moment of our day (Proverbs 3:5-6). When you bless us, we tend to trust in our own ability, to take credit for the victories. We forget that we need You for every breath we take. You desire to be more than a “fireman” to douse the flames of the issues of life and to keep them from consuming us.

 

You offer us an intimate relationship with You every moment of the day. We feel Your love cascading over us like a waterfall, Your peace wrapping us in a safe cocoon in the midst of life swirling by all around us, and Your righteousness replacing the negative thoughts, choice and emotions which normally direct our life.

Thought for the Day:

Regardless of our earthly circumstances, God leads us in a level path because of the insecurity of life in this world. – Psalm 27:11

 

 

A Fruitful Life

One work of the Holy Spirit in our life is to sanctify us by continually, although often slowly, replacing in us the negative attributes of our personality with His spiritual fruit.

 

Galatians 5:22-23 describes for us the fruit of the Spirit…”But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

 

Sometimes, it is confusing to put the meaning of these words in simple terms. The definitions I like are:

Love – affection for others

Joy – exuberance about life

Peace – serenity

Patience – willingness to stick with it

Gentleness – compassion from the heart

Goodness – kindness that pervades our entire being

Meekness – humility and service

Self-Control – guided by the Spirit

Faith – trust that God knows what He’s doing

 

When I compare these to their opposites, the negative characteristics cause me to shudder. I certainly want no part of them in my character:

Envy, strife, hatred, bitterness, self-centeredness, pride, criticism, worry, depression, quitters and complainers, backbiters, and people who put work and fun ahead of God. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

 

The Good News is that the Spirit of Jesus Christ within us sanctifies us moment-by-moment! He replaces:

hatred with love,

depression with true joy,

discontentment with peace,

irritation with patience,

criticism with gentleness,

backbiting with goodness,

pride with meekness,

excess with self-control,

and worry with the faith of God as we are controlled and guided by His Spirit.

 

Prayer:

Father God, we thank You for putting Your fruit in us in place of the negative traits we learned from others, those that are ingrained in our personality with which we are born, and those that we develop through the disappointments of life.

 

We give our life to You to mold and make into the divine nature of Christ as He abides within us. We want to be lights of Your character to the world around us, and to have the mind of Christ rather than the whims of our flesh, the world or the devil. Thank You for Your sanctifying work in our life.

 

Thought for the Day:

God replaces our negative character traits with the fruit of His Spirit as we willingly submit to His surgeon’s scalpel, the Word of God, which divides our flesh from our spirit.

– Hebrews 4:12

 

Fullness of Joy

In the presence of God is the only spot on this earth where the fullness of joy resides. He offers us pleasures that last throughout eternity (Psalm 16:11; 139: 23-24).

 

We often look for natural, human experiences with God, but His ways are so much higher than ours. God enjoys sitting with us in silence; no revelations, no rushing wind, no mighty supernatural gifts deposited in our life. Just golden silence in the presence of our King Jesus.

 

At other times, we need a notebook to keep track of all the ideas He imparts to us during these intimate times of devotion.

 

We may make a to-do list for our day, or a prayer list of people He wants us to lift up in our prayers that day, or people we need to forgive or those from whom we need to ask forgiveness.

 

Only as we deliberately enter the recesses within our own soul, and only as we conquer the clutter in our life and thoughts, and empty our self of selfish ambition and attitudes, can we hope to discover His presence in our life.

 

However, the amount of clutter in our soul leaves no room for Him to make His presence known to us. God will give us a plan to straighten up the inner and the outer clutter in our life.

 

Listening to God with our undivided attention in these times of aloneness is the key to growing spiritually. We find that we look forward to our times alone with God.

 

Prayer:

Father God, when we abide in You, negative emotions such as fear, confusion, distress, distrust, and dread no longer fill every recess of our soul. We learn to trust in You regardless of the natural events taking place around us. We sit with awe-filled wonder at the magnificence of Your will and way in our life.

 

Give us this day only that which we need to serve You; and teach us to wait patiently on You for each new day, hour and moment that You give us to attend to You with our whole heart. We release our negative emotions to You and receive from You the cry of Your heart instead.

 

Thought for the Day:

Ephesians 3:16-19 (Amplified Bible)…“ May God grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality]. 17 May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, 18 That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; 19 [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being]]unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!

 

Bruised, but Not Broken

Violence can break a person, a relationship, personal belongings, etc. Something whole is handicapped now…maybe glued together, but never the same again.

 

Sometimes the fracture is undetectable, but it is there nonetheless – influencing every day of our life, leaving us damaged, cracked, fragmented and wounded.

 

Fear, confusion, insecurity and brokenness leave us vulnerable, crushed, strained and fractured. Ravaged by the choice made by someone else, our life is less than perfect. We often injure others because we are no longer whole.

 

Jesus paid the price to help us to mend from these injuries and flaws. He allowed the Roman soldiers to spill His blood, so we can be healed in body, soul and spirit (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

 

Jesus heals the brokenhearted by the anointing of God’s Holy Spirit (Luke 4:18).Troubles and trials may press in on us from every side, but Jesus breaks the yokes which bind us to them.

 

If we trust in and rely on Him alone, He does not allow life to crush us (Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 12:20). He encourages us when we are disheartened to keep us from being driven to despair (Psalms 34:18). He never leaves us or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5).

 

This persecution reveals the character of Christ in us, as we share in suffering in this life similar to His (2 Corinthians 4:7-12). Our anguish here on earth cannot even compare to the unspeakable glory and joy that God will reveal in us and to us through the power of Christ’s resurrection.

 

Prayer:

Father God, You comfort all who mourn (Matthew 5:4). You require from us a spirit, which is humbly broken and contrite (Psalm 51:17). If we fall upon Christ by faith, we may be crushed; but never broken, because He will save us (Matthew 21:44).

 

Conversely, those who reject Your Son Jesus actually expose themselves to danger, ultimate ruin and eternal destruction (Luke 20:18; John 3:16-18; Romans 11:19; John 15:5). You will not allow the crushed stem to be completely broken or their feeble light to be put out entirely (Matthew 12:20).

 

Thought for the Day:

A bruised and broken life is full of mercy and compassion for others, and God uses us as a conduit of His love to those who suffered what we have suffered.

 

Apart From Jesus

Living apart from Jesus is the most miserable existence on earth. We continually strive to obtain, reach or acquire that one more item, experience, person, place, career opportunity, or status symbol to make us happy on this earth (Philippians 3:1-11).

 

Conversely, like Paul, I am obsessed with the idea of the Trinity living in us. Paul mentions it more than 170 times in his epistles. Christ in us delivers us from sin and fills us with His resurrection life (Romans 5:10). He writes His laws in our conscience so that we will not sin against Him.

 

He changes our personality, our values, our priorities and our life goals (2 Corinthians 5:17), and floods our soul with His infinite peace and wisdom (Philippians 4:6-8). Yet, if we live apart from Jesus, we have none of these benefits (1 John 5:12).

 

His salvation reaches not only to our spirit (salvation), but to our soul (sanctification) and body (glorification) as well (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Redemption consists of these three phases in the stages of a lifelong journey of purification and contentment.

 

God freely offers everyone this gift of a personal relationship with Him. We have the option to either embrace His friendship or to refuse to acknowledge Him. The choice is ours.

 

He gives us this opportunity to get to know Christ and to grow in our understanding of His power, His resurrection and in what He has to offer us in eternity.

 

We can experience firsthand both Christ’s sufferings and His victories as we walk through our trials with Him within us. Apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5); but in Him we are conquerors over every trial, because He loves us (Romans 8:37).

 

Christ suffered rejection by the religious leaders of His day. They did not believe they were actually crucifying the living God, because they did not recognize Him for who He was. We do know Him, however.

 

We have the opportunity every day to fellowship with Christ in us; to walk in His mercy, power and grace; to be led by His Holy Spirit and to live with Him in eternity in Heaven.

 

When we put our trust in Christ alone, and allow Him to live in us and to work through us, His power flows in us, through us and from us as it changes the world around us.

 

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your death on Calvary’s cross, which paid the penalty for my sin (Romans 5:8). Thank You for Your resurrection that gives me life in my spirit, soul and body. Thank You for Your redemption that guarantees me a place in eternity with You. Thank You for one life to live on this earth in Your serenity and joy. Help me to make every day count for Your glory.

 

Lead us by Your Spirit to accomplish Your works in the natural family, church family, neighborhood, city, state and country where You have us living. Remind us that we are missionaries for You and that You have a divine purpose for our life. Help to fulfill Your purpose every moment of every day.

 

Thought for the Day:

Jesus gives me the opportunity to be one with Him in perfect love and acceptance, apart from any good deeds, pious performances or imposed restrictions, which come from my self-effort.

 

Give Me Jesus

We are foreigners in this world (Ephesians 2:19). We are no longer attached to any person, place or thing, because they are all temporary and subject to loss or change without a moment’s notice.

 

Our humanity is dead to sin, because we no longer care about things of this world; but Jesus lives His life in and through us. The life we now live in this mortal body, we live by the faith of Christ in us, because He loves us and gave His life as a ransom for our life (Galatians 2:20).

 

If Jesus is our whole life, then we are never abandoned and never alone (Colossians 3:3-4). He is there when we awaken in the morning, when we are sick or healthy, when we are alone or in a crowd, when our body wears out and when we enter eternity.

 

I never meet a stranger, only potential friends. I love pretty flowers and sunsets, special furniture and nick-knacks; but they are here today and gone tomorrow.

 

Even people are unfaithful, or move, or leave this world bound for their eternal place of existence. They leave us behind and we are void of their presence in our daily life; however, in actuality, Jesus is all we need both in this world and the next (Hebrews 13:5).

 

He is a refreshing waterfall of living water (John 4:14). His river of living water flows from us and changes the lives of those around us (John 7:38). He drenches us with His love, peace and joy, regardless of the circumstances of our life. We cling to Him as our lifeboat through the troubled waters.

 

He is our brother, and we are co-heirs with Him of our Father’s Kingdom (Romans 8:17). He lives in us and also walks with us. We are doubly cared for by our living Savior. We can relax, breathe and trust in Him.

 

Deep breathing helps us to regulate our emotions and enables us to increase our focus and lucidity when we make an effort to trust in the Lord alone, live in this one moment of time, and to breathe deeply throughout the day.

 

Prayer:

Father God, make us ever mindful that You are not here to serve us; but we are here to serve You. You make an eternal transformation in our life so we can live as an example of Your Gospel message, and make a difference in the lives of everyone that You lead us to encounter throughout our day. Teach us to trust in, rely on and believe in You alone each moment of our day.

 

You gave us Jesus as our center, our portion, our inheritance, our divine nature and character, etc. He is all we really need in both this life and the next. Thank You for covering us with Your feathers, because we gain our peace under the shadow of Your wings (Psalm 36:5-12).

 

Thought for the Day:

Taking deep breaths in through our nose will control our brain’s neurological signals, which leads to improved emotional feelings and the processing of our thoughts; slow, steady breathing activates the relaxing part of our nervous system, and slows our heart rate, reducing any feelings of worry and panic from stress.