Changed from the Inside Out

As I learned to enter God’s rest and walk in His Spirit, I experienced intense withdrawals from my former codependent lifestyle. I acted like a schizophrenic.

 

One moment I would say or do something codependent and the next moment I would step into my new role as a Spirit-led Believer and say or do the opposite. I confused people by this dual personality.

 

Gradually, I decreased in my role as a codependent and Christ increased in me. I learned to say “No” unless God told me to say “Yes.” He taught me to let the job go undone; so others whom God was calling to that role would step up and do it instead of me.

 

I started to see and appreciate the gray hues and tones in life, rather than seeing only black or white. My flexibility increased and my rigid extremes decreased.

 

The demon of perfectionism left my soul and I found joy in the messes of life as I had more time to enjoy other pursuits, which God called me to do. I actually left dishes in the sink and went to bed.

 

God’s Spirit slowly changed my perspective from a carnal, earth-bound outlook to a spiritual, heavenly-minded one. He also healed my wounded soul, traumatized and dysfunctional since childhood and young adulthood ( http://www.theophostic.com ).

 

I released the shame and feelings of defectiveness attached to the wounds of the past and accepted His divine character and the fruit of His Spirit in their place (2 Peter 1:4; Galatians 5:22-23).

 

Prayer:

Father God, thank You for exposing Satan’s lies, which made me believe that I had to earn love by my behavior. Your Agape love opened me up to expect unconditional love from the significant others in my life. The fear, insecurity, defensiveness and over-sensitivity, which plagued my life decreased as I learned to trust You in spite of the untrustworthy people in my life.

 

You taught me the reality of the fact that You work out everything for our good, even the negative experiences in our life, which threaten to choke the very life from our soul (Roman 8:28). You trained me to look for the seed for a miracle in every trial. You are our worthy, benevolent Father and we are completely loved by You.

 

Thought for the Day:

Self-destructive behaviors – driven by frustration, anger and a wounded soul – diminish as we learn to enter God’s rest and bask in His peace and joy, which are our true source of strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

 

I am a Person too – Part 1 – Freedom from the Tyranny of the Past

Our whole life consists of relationships with our loved ones, acquaintances, co-workers, neighbors, authority figures, friends, family members and even with our self.

 

We have a chance of receiving wounds and/or blessings from all of these associations; and our past, even our subconscious conflicts, influences each of these interactions as well.

 

Our relationship with our self includes our body, soul and spirit. Our body has internal and external influences, our soul includes our thoughts and feelings and choices, and our spirit is either dead in sin or free in Christ (Colossians 2:13).

 

Events in our life, involving this multiplex of individual influences, add flavor to or diminish our joy in life. The way people react to us helps to form our concept of our self. We learned to love or despise our self from their actions and opinions.

 

Subconscious memories of these interactions continue to create our self-concept and the way we relate to people as an adult. We may live with a wounded, defensive attitude or a carefree, happy outlook or an angry, combative defiance.

 

Trauma changes the way we see our self and our future. We can diffuse and disarm these subconscious memories and the way they affect our relationships today by surrendering our life to Jesus Christ.
 

We do not have to blame current issues on our self or anyone else. They usually occur from woundedness in one or both of us. Issues in adult relationships often stem from childhood suffering; but childhood wounds do not have to control our adult life.

 

We can learn a new way to set up boundaries, exercise discernment, stop victimization, redefine our attitudes, change our behavioral patterns and gain a new perspective on priorities and what is important to us by allowing God to expose Satan’ lies and to renew a right spirit within us (Psalm 51:10).

( http://www.theophostic.com )

 

Prayer:

Father God, You want to create a clean, pure, simple heart within us; one not tainted by the world and painful experiences, but one of freedom in Christ (John 8:36). You delight in setting our soul free from the pain of the past and giving us a bright and promising future (Jeremiah 29:11). Teach us that when people are not trustworthy, we can still trust in You.

 

As children we were more vulnerable and had fewer choices in the actions perpetrated on us by others. As adults, we can take a more active role by surrendering our future to You and listening to Your Spirit each moment of the day. Thank You for giving us Your wisdom in place of our human reasoning and for teaching us to have boundaries and how to ensure that we have input into our daily experiences.

 

Thought for the Day:

Our past has power over us only if we give it permission to do so; coming to Christ for healing helps us to find freedom from the tyranny of the past.

 

Living in Praise

Did you ever notice that Paul was the eternal optimist? The man worked hard, almost died several times, was stoned, shipwrecked and in the sea a day and night, constantly in danger, sleepless, hungry and thirsty, and exposed to both hot and cold elements (2 Corinthians 11:22-28).

Yet, he told us to rejoice always; to pray without ceasing; not to quench the Spirit; and to give thanks in everything: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-19).

Does this mean to give thanks, because everything that happens to us is God’s will for us; or that giving thanks is God’s will for us? Either way, it is worth paying attention to this verse.

If giving thanks is God’s will, then when we praise the Lord, we are in God’s will; and when we do not praise the Lord, we are out of God’s will for us.

If Paul is saying that we should give thanks in good times and in adversity, because all of these circumstances are the will God for us, then when we do not praise Him, we are missing out on part of the miracle, which God has for us through this trial.

Recently, our air-conditioning was out for two days during the hottest November on record in southwest Florida. I was dripping sweat, irritable and claustrophobic – because the heat imprisoned me and I could not escape it.

This caused me to remember my childhood and first pregnancy; when we had no air-conditioning at all, because of our lack of income. My mom used a wet wash cloth on her neck, so I did too. It helped this time too.

As I prayed during this inconvenience, God brought Paul’s exhortation to my mind. I realized that I was not to grumble or to allow my flesh to get the better of me; and I was to walk in the Spirit and praise God, even in the suffocating heat.

Easier said than done; but I have been learning to live through my spirit and not my flesh and this was just another opportunity to practice. I truly was thankful that the circumstances were not even more dreadful.

Prayer:
Father God, I really wanted Your permission during this trial to be grouchy and to feel sorry for myself. I wanted to complain and gain sympathy from family and friends. However, I knew this would only make others miserable too, and I would not grow in my spirit with negative behavior or remain in Your will without praising.

I know that You were building character in me and preparing me for future events in my life; therefore, I chose to change my focus and to praise You with each drop of perspiration. I was even able to thank You that it cools down in southwest Florida on November evenings, and that I still had electricity and could run the fans. Thank You for living through this trial with me.

Thought for the Day:
Regardless of the circumstances, we are to do all things without grumbling and complaining (Philippians 2:12-16), and to walk in the Spirit each moment of the day (Galatians 5:15-25).

​A New Creation – Part 1

As a child, I felt insecure and fearful about tomorrow. I desperately attempted to control my life in order to feel as safe as is humanly possible. I did not want to leave anything to chance, because it usually turned out badly. I focused inwardly and took care of my own business.

Introverted and analytical, I lived a very cautious life with intense self-discipline and attention to details, so I would not cause anyone to get upset with me. I disliked change of any kind and I reacted in anger when my security was threatened in any way.

My favorite activity was to sit in our giant China-berry tree in our back yard, engrossed in a book until sunset. I also enjoyed crafts of all kinds. My mom and grandmother taught me to do needlework, and I learned to do many other crafts from the instructions in library books.

Throughout childhood, I was way too sensitive, felt too deeply and cared too much. I had no real friends except my cousins and my Girl Scout troop. I had no dreams or aspirations, except making it through the day in relative peace and calm. These traits followed me all through high school.

In adulthood, my loyalty to God, friends and family served me well as a Born Again Believer. I still do not need many friends, but I am merciful, caring and loyal to all of my acquaintances. I am still easily embarrassed and shy. I feel overwhelmed in a group and I prefer talking to people one-on-one.

However, God impressed on me the importance of stepping out of my shy persona and allowing His Spirit to minister to people through me. Ironically, He called me to serve Him as a greeter in social gatherings, and as a Pastor’s wife, living in the limelight under microscopic scrutiny.

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for using these years of my life to transform me with the mind of Christ. My penchant for perfectionism made me, and everyone around me, tense and uptight, until You mercifully delivered me from that demonic plague. You taught me that doing my best was all that anyone could ever expect from me. Then, You took it one step further and encouraged me to walk in Your Spirit as You transform my life.

Thought for the Day:
In Christ, our old personality is dead and we no longer live for our self, because the Spirit of God abides within us and we are buried in Christ and raised to walk in a new life. – 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:4

Even Good People Fall Short

Many people base their righteousness on their thoughts, words and deeds. They are good people and they live an exemplary life with no overt issues, which would alert them to their sinful nature. Yet, even these model citizens must come to the place where their faith is based on what Jesus did for us, rather than on their self-righteousness.

Even good people sin in their heart (Matthew 15:19; Ecclesiastes 7:20). The inclination of the human heart, even from childhood, is to do evil (Genesis 8:21). Our spirit is dead at birth, and we have only a body and soul by which to relate to this world. We innately know that we are not complete; and we look to people, places and things to fill that void. This futile exercise is continually unsuccessful.

We end up weary and some contemplate suicide. Many people are too proud and self-righteous to call out to God for His salvation. Yet, anyone who does is Born Again in his/her Spirit. Our only requirements are to turn away from sin and to believe that Jesus died for us personally. Then, God molds us into His temple and dwells within us by His Holy Spirit.

We cannot earn our spot in heaven or our access to God. This requires perfection, and we all fall short of God’s perfect glory (Romans 3:23). Only Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, could take the punishment for our sins and give us the free gift of His righteousness in exchange (Romans 6:23). God’s Spirit then leads us into all Truth and reminds us of His Word, which guides us throughout our lifetime (1 Corinthians 3:16; John 16:13, 14:26).

Prayer:
Father God, we are mere mortals and we are all born in Adam’s sin (Job 15:14). However, You fill us through our entire being with all of Your fullness (Ephesians 3:19). Through the power of Your Trinity within us, we live victoriously as we walk in Your perfect plan for our life (1 Corinthians 15:57). Our carnal, worldly friends, relatives, associates and neighbors may attempt to draw us back into worldly pursuits; but as we focus on You, You keep us in Your perfect peace and on Your straight and narrow road (Isaiah 26:3; Matthew 7:13-14). Thank You, that as we surrender our life exclusively to You, we reap Your rewards (Matthew 5:12; Philippians 4:19).

Thought for the Day:
We find the fulfillment and completion we long for through Christ in us, who is our only hope of a glorious life now and throughout eternity. – Colossians 1:27, 2:10

Perfected in Love

Perfected in Love

Due to the experiences of my childhood, I grew up as a fearful and insecure person. I came to Christ at age 18, and the slow process of inner healing began. Even as I grew spiritually, my soul was haunted by the past and feared the future. With an analytical mind and organizational skills, I appeared to be a person who had it all together.

The underlying truth was that I subconsciously lived in wary anticipation of the next circumstance totally annihilating me. I guarded against and opposed anyone who threatened my security in any way. With my Italian genes, I am fiercely passionate in all of my emotions. To those who knew me best, I presented a puzzle in direct opposites.

Those who took my tirades personally were devastated, and withdrew emotionally or physically from me. Those who understood me realized that my Italian nature allowed me to laugh with as much abandon and passion as I used anger to protect myself. My most endearing quality is my loyalty and faithfulness to God, my family and God’s family. All traits of an Italian nature.

The apostle John, being a sensitive soul, understood that if we continue to entertain fears after our conversion, it is because God’s love has not yet perfected some area in our life (1 John 4:18). We have not been healed in some areas of our past that are still affecting our current life. (www.theophostic.com) However, as we experience healing in our soul, we sense more and more that God’s love protects us.

It takes a while after surrendering to Christ for His Spirit to heal all the wounds from our past and to give us the perfect comfort and security, which only His love can provide. Do not berate yourself for your shortcomings. Everyone has them, and no one has a right to reject you for them. They just manifest differently in them than in you. Forgive yourself as readily as you forgive those who hurt you.

Prayer:
Father God, remind us that taking time to walk in Your Spirit moment by moment throughout the day helps us to walk in complete surrender and serenity. When the pain of the past or the fears of the future raise their ugly heads, we can realize that we are safe in the shadow of our Almighty in this one moment of time. This thought gives us comfort and confidence.

Thought for the Day:
Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not depend on your human reasoning. – Proverbs 3:5-6