The Perfecting Work of Patience – He Who Began a Good Work

Is our salvation and sanctification our responsibility, or is it the work of God’s Spirit within us? Some will say, “We are to work out our own salvation.” (Philippians 2:12) Others will counter with, “It is the Holy Spirit who gives us both the desire and the power” to do that (Philippians 2:13).

Most people agree that salvation is through grace by faith; but believe that we have to work for sanctification (Ephesians 2:8). Yet, the foolish Galatians were reprimanded by Paul for attempting to perfect themselves through their own self-efforts (Galatians 3:1-3).

Paul was amazed that they actually believed they could sanctify their life by their works. Paul constantly reminds the early Saints that nothing in our Christian walk is by works, because then we could boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

God is not interested in our ability, but in our availability to His Spirit. The works of the flesh can only be crucified by the work of the Spirit (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:16). We live and walk only by the Spirit of God; otherwise, we spin our wheels and end up exhausted (Galatians 5:25).

We boldly claim that we can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13); but when we put the emphasis on “we” can do all things, we fail time and again. We pull our self up by our boot straps until they are totally worn off.

This verse is actually saying that we cannot do anything except “through Christ”. When we completely capitulate to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to both save and perfect us, we enter God’s rest (Hebrews 4:10).

It is the Spirit, not our self-effort, which transforms us from one stage of sanctification to the next (2 Corinthians 3:18). Even the armor of God, which Paul encourages us to wear, is the work of God’s Spirit in our life (Ephesians 6:10-18).

God’s Spirit transforms our mind to the mind of Christ (Romans 12:2). He also renews our character with the divine nature of Christ (2 Peter 1:4). He who began the work of salvation in us, will continue to perfect us through His work of sanctification (Philippians 1:6).

Prayer:
Father God, we humans do not want to admit that we are helpless without a Savior. We want to believe that even if we cannot save our self, we can attempt to perfect our self through our diligence and self-discipline by obeying Your Word.

Remind us that we can do good works only as we abide in the faith of Christ within us (James 2:17). We could not justify our self by keeping the law and we cannot sanctify our self through self-effort either. Keeping the law never gave us life prior to salvation and there is no way that walking in obedience to the law can perfect us after salvation. Without Your Spirit doing the sanctifying work, we are totally lost and undone.

Thought for the Day:
When we do choose to obey, the desire and ability is generated by God’s Spirit within us; God has a perfect plan for our life, and we find it only when we walk in the Spirit each moment of the day (Ephesians 2:8-10).

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My Soul Waits – A Frank Conversation

Negative, shaming self-talk comes from Satan in order to discourage us from allowing God to use us to His full potential within us. It diminishes our ability to receive the flow of God’s love to us.

We feel like crawling into a closet or curling into a tiny ball and hiding from the world. We cannot even look at our self in the mirror.

Our judgmental, critical, shaming and censoring thoughts about our self and others cripples us and deflects the immensity of the Truth of God’s unconditional love and acceptance for us.

We do not sense God’s faith, hope and love within us in the person of Jesus Christ. We are unable to detect His will through our hurried lives and busy days.

We have to get off the merry-go-round of life and have a frank conversation with God. As we share our heart with Him, we empty our soul of the cares of this life and our deep seated insecurities.

Meditating on God’s Word throughout the day helps us to focus on Him and His will for our life. This trains our soul to think on heavenly things rather than being carnally minded.

In the silent times of waiting on God, we enjoy His companionable silence as He showers us with His love, fills us with His peace and gives us His joy as our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

He gets us ready for the next trial or temptation or crisis which we will face by strengthening us from the inside out. He showers us with His blessings and love to re-enforce our spirit and prepare us for the battle ahead.

Prayer:
Father God, You have a distinct purpose for each person You created. You sent Your Son to redeem us and Your Spirit to direct us throughout our lifetime. Make us aware of Your presence during the quiet times we maintain throughout our day.

Remind us to listen to Your voice, rather than the satanic voices in our mind. Draw us closer to You. We thank You for never letting us go (Hebrews 13:5). Work in us the divine nature of Christ (2 Peter 1:4), and fulfill in us and through us all of your promises.

Thought for the Day:
God has a perfect, prearranged plan for our life; and as we walk in it, we find His presence along with fulfillment and holiness.
– John 17:17-18; Ephesians 2:10

We Can Do All Things

When we quote the first half of Philippians 4:13, we usually put the emphasis on our self. We can do all things. We stop there, feeling rather smug with our self and overly confident in our own ability to accomplish great works for God.

We need to quote the verse in its entirety: “I can do everything, which God asks me to do, through the power of Christ in me, who gives me the ability and the strength.”

This verse is actually telling us that apart from Christ, we can do nothing (John 15:5). He is the vine, we are the branches. Apart from the vine, the branch is useless and dies.

A branch bears no fruit apart from the Vine. The Vine gives us the ability and strength to produce only that fruit, which the Vinedresser predispositions us to bear (John 15:1).

God’s perfect plan, orchestrated for each life, yields a beautiful symphony. We do not do works for God, but the works of God, which He called us to do before we were ever born (Ephesians 2:20).

This way we cannot take any credit for our accomplishments nor should we feel as if we are incapable of obeying the Holy Spirit’s direction. Christ is within every authentic Believer, every step of our life (Matthew 28:20).

God’s Spirit directs and supports us in each situation, which life throws our way (Isaiah 41:10; Daniel 3:24-25). We gain our esteem and power from Christ in us (Colossians 1:27).

Prayer:
Father God, we find rest for our soul – our mind, choices and emotions, when we realize that we no longer need to figure everything out and to plan for ever contingency. We rest in the realization that Jesus is our way, truth and life (John 14:6).

As we know You in a deeper relationship, Christ is also our wisdom and strength (Philippians 3:20; 1 Corinthians 1:30). We completely surrender to You and Your direction of our thoughts, words and deeds according to Your perfect will for us (Romans 12:2).

Thought for the Day:
Nothing will occur in our life, which is not already part of God’s plan for us, unless we are reaping the consequences of our disobedience or self-will.

Deep Inner Peace and Fulfillment

God orchestrates every nuance of our life. His abundant light overcomes the densest gloom. His power and majesty slay every demon in spiritual darkness, which comes against us (1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:3).

He encourages us to take our focus off our mortal frailty or our competent human abilities, and to concentrate on the reality of Christ in us (Colossians 1:27). God’s presence in our life provides us with deep inner peace and fulfillment.

Nothing this world has to offer can take the place of His goodness and grace. When the issues of life become more than we can bear, we sit on our Heavenly Father’s lap and snuggle in the safety of His arms.

I love to spend time in the night watches praising, praying, writing blog posts, and crying or rejoicing in the presence of our Father God (Isaiah 26:9). We are in Him and He dwells within us (Galatians 2:20).

This state of abiding in Christ is accomplished by one swift act of total surrender. It may take a deep trial, a layoff from work, rejection from a mate or a week-end retreat; but when our soul yearns for God, we readily relinquish our will to Him.

Once we make up our mind to allow Christ to live His life in and through us, our life starts changing – both in miniscule growth, as well as leaps and bounds (1 Samuel 16:7). We exhibit more and more of Christ’s divine nature and we never, ever leave His presence (2 Peter 1:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Prayer:
Father God, You only want what is best for Your children. Every action You take in our life, even the trials and tribulation, is an act of Your love. You wound, but You never break, and You always heal (Job 5:18). You fill the void within each of us and You satisfy the longing in our soul for something greater than this temporal life (Psalm 107:9). Your affection and provision never fail us.

Thought for the Day:
God’s children sing of His mercy and strength, which is new every morning; and we praise our loving Father for being our stronghold, refuge and fortress in all our times of trouble. – Lamentations 3:22-23; Psalm 59:16-17

Falling Away from God

Many people reach a plateau in their walk with the Lord. The increasing highs, which transitioned us from sinner to saint, level off. We experience a dry time of struggle, questions and doubts. We attempt to substitute some facet of life in this world to mask or to try to improve this perceived loss in our life. Human success is very deceptive. It gives us a false sense of power and ability.

We stop patiently relying on God and we strike out on our own again. Like the Israelites we remember the provision of the world and forget the trials (Numbers 11:5). The prodigal son did this too. He ended up in the pigpen, until God humbled him enough for him to return to the Father’s house (Luke 15:17). Only the living water of life flowing from the throne of God can quench our interminable thirst (Revelations 22:1).

Satan sits by our ear and whispers convincing lies and doubts. Satan’s words have negative connotations. They tear down, discourage and condemn (1 Peter 5:8). Satan’s words bring bondage and criticism. However, we also have a spiritual ear, able to hear from God Himself (Matthew 11:15). Pay attention to the thoughts in your mind and change them to positive thoughts (Philippians 4:8).

God’s words are positive. Even His conviction brings repentance and does not make us feel despicable and dispirited. His words bring freedom to our soul and spirit. The closer to our deadline we get, the more our faith falters. God’s timing may be slower than we would like it to be, and we may get nervous and fearful. We forget that God always works out even the worse scenario for our ultimate benefit (Romans 8:28).

Prayer:
Father God, even when we view our future through a foggy window (1 Corinthians 13:12), and we have no idea why You are acting as You are, we can still trust You to give us the victory and to use us for Your purposes in the earth. Your Word is full of incidents where You used unconventional methods to bring about your desired results. We can always trust that no matter how bizarre the events get in our life, You are always there, right inside of us (Colossians 1:27), experiencing the trial right along with us.

Thought for the Day:
Remember God’s past victories in your life and draw faith from His provision and faithfulness for this new trial.

Walking in the Spirit

God’s Spirit motivates us to live a liberated and active life, which is centered on spiritual matters. Yet, the sinful, self-centeredness that dominated our life prior to coming to Christ still interferes with our ability to walk in God’s Spirit. These contrary desires war within our soul – our thoughts, choices and feelings – and pull us in two opposing directions at the same time (Galatians 5:16-26; Romans 7).

There is no way to reconcile these two areas of thought and behavior, because the Spirit fuels the one and the flesh drives the other one. The good news is that once we are truly Born Again, God breathes His life into our spirit within us, which joins forces with our soul and influences our behavior. His constant presence within enables us to walk in the Spirit rather than in the flesh (Galatians 5:18).

If we live by the flesh, we are motivated by the destructive behavior of impure thoughts; immoral pleasures; demonic practices; placing people, things and activities before God; hatred and bitterness, anger and jealousy, complaining and criticism, exclusivity and intolerance; worthless worship; alienation; ruthless rivalry; making enemies; addictions and frenzied grasping at illusive goals (Galatians 5:19).

Even authentic Christians can decline morally and fall back into compromised living. If we use our freedom in Christ for this type of behavior, it bars us from the gates of God’s Kingdom (Galatians 5:20). However, if we choose to live according to Godly principles and wisdom, He brings fruitful blessings into our life (1 John 3:9, 1:9). Holiness allows God’s spiritual fruit to permeate our life (Galatians 5:21-22).

Desiring to have our own way or to follow the crowd is no longer part of our thought process. Self-effort is useless; it only hinders our walk with God. Our human nature is crucified with Christ and our new spiritual conviction turns into submission and obedience to Him (Colossians 3:3-4). Our life flows from God’s will and requires little effort on our part (Galatians 5:23-24). We have God’s love, power and sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

Prayer:
Father God, we thank You for preparing our salvation before You ever created the world. You knew that our stubbornness and pride would prevent us from submitting to Your will before You ever created the first person. However, You also knew that some hearts would be humbled by life, and would eventually reach the point that we realize that we need You both now and for eternity. Thank You for crucifying the Lamb before time even began (Revelation 13:8).

Thought for the Day:
Our life in the Spirit is not an ethereal concept or a sentimental attitude but a reality, which infiltrates every area of our life. – Galatians 5:25-26

Complete Trust

A man came to Jesus for healing; but knowing his human soul, he honestly admitted, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief” (Mark 9:23-25). Trusting in a Being, which we cannot see, is a bit overwhelming, especially as a new Christian. The secret lies in realizing that Christ lives IN us, and we function through His faith, His desire and His ability (Galatians 2:20). God has a special calling for each of us (Ephesians 2:10).

Therefore, we imitate Christ and do the works, which He did (1 Corinthians 11:1). Surrendered to God’s Spirit, we live in serenity even through life’s negative circumstances. Depending on Jesus for everything in our life, we trust Him to know what is best for us (Jeremiah 29:11). Our union with Christ eliminates the stress of life. Born Again Saints, who live in stress, are not living a surrendered life.

Like Christ, we receive our life from God. God reconciles us to Himself. Then, we surrender our life back to Him and walk in His resurrection power. God does not renew our life so that we can pursue our carnal dreams, but in order for us to live in His will (Ephesians 2:10). We are freed from the death of sin to surrender our life to God (2 Timothy 2:15). We have the life of Christ filling our entire being.

God perfects everything, which pertains to us (Psalm 138:8; Philippians 1:6). We can trust in His unchangable nature (Malichi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). Like Jesus, we commune with our Father and we live in obedience to His Spirit’s guidance each moment of the day. We do this through the anointing of Christ IN us. As we enter into His rest, we abide in the perfect faith of Christ, completely trusing in God’s faithfulness (Hebrews 10:4: Galatians 2:20).

Prayer:
Father God, we have confidence in Your will for our life. We are not sufficient in ourselves to accomplish anything on our own. Our adequacy comes only from You. You make us competent ministers of Your gospel message, mercy, grace and truth. We do not minister by the letter of the law, because legalistic adherence kills; but Your Spirit gives us life (2 Corinthians 3:4-6).

Thought for the Day:
Trust in the Lord with every fiber of your being, and do not rely on your own plans. – Proverbs 3:5-6