​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

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Self-Confidence or God-Confidence

There is nothing on this earth that I want more than to be filled through all of my being with all of the fullness of God, and to have the richest measure of His presence until I completely overflow with God Himself (Ephesians 3:19). This starts at Salvation when we receive all of God’s fullness. He moves in by His Spirit with all of His glory and power.

I know that there is no way to contain more of God, because His fullness already abides in Believers; but I do want to experience a fuller awareness of His presence and leading. Too often, we are so full of our self, that we miss out on the fullness of God within us. The more we allow our flesh and self-confidence to dictate our life, the less we walk in the Spirit.

We need to surrender to God the self-assured part of our identity in order to trust Him. People with a high opinion of their assets have so much to overcome, but those who suffer with self-doubt and who lack self-esteem are closer to walking in the Spirit. The uncertain, timid person is already light years ahead of most people. Insecure people trust God more than those who are secure in their self.

What we need more than self-confidence in our human attributes is our confidence and identity in God. John advised us to decrease, so that Christ in us may increase (John 3:30). We gain our identity in who we are in Christ, not in who we are as a person. There is nothing, which God calls us to do, that we cannot accomplish, once we realize the extent of His power within us (Philippians 4:13).

If we list our human assets and talents, we discover the gifts God gave us. For instance, what are we good at? What positive character traits do we already have? These are the areas where God is already shining through us. We are His light in the world (Matthew 5:16). God lives in us, and we have all the power of the godhead working through us. Now, that fact will improve any self-image!

Prayer:
Father God, when we face challenges in life, which overwhelm our faith, we are tempted to roll up our sleeves and apply some human effort to the problem. We fail to realize our limited human resources. Remind us that the nation of Israel faced such an issue at the outskirts of Canaan, and felt like grasshoppers. They wandered in the wilderness, because they thought they had to rely on their human effort rather than on Yours. Give us the faith to follow the leading of Your Holy Spirit each moment of every day.

Thought for the Day:
When we gain our identity from Christ in us, rather than from our human capabilities or insufficiencies, we accomplish everything, which God calls us to do.

Not My Will, but Yours

Life often requires a balancing act. We find ourselves thrown off center by confusion or a catastrophe, which comes when we least expect it. Our normal peaceful life spins out of control. Each compartment of our life, which we meticulously created to provide us with security and a safe haven, suddenly tilts to one side.

We feel disoriented, insecure and fearful. Reacting with negative emotions can create even more problems. We panic and make poor decisions. We hectically, yet unsuccessfully, try to manage the disruptive people and events in our life in an attempt to make us feel safe again, but this never helps. In fact, it usually increases our anxiety, when these people react to the frustration we create in their lives.

Part of the problem occurs when we acquire more possessions than we need. Our life slowly sinks under a burden of stress created by trying to pay for this accumulation. Another factor comes if we lean toward making sinful decisions, because we end up reaping what we sow. A third aspect transpires when we tip under the weight of the demands, which others place on us.

So, let’s simplify our life. We can sell unnecessary possessions and discipline our spending habits, make wiser choices in the future and maintain a life of purity and serenity. We can also simplify time and energy, which other people demand from us, by doing on that which God’s Spirit directs us to do for them. Peace comes when we trust God to order our lives (James 1:2-4).

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, as we walk the tightrope of life, help us to focus on the equilibrium You provide for us within each moment that we live, rather than focusing on the spinning details of our negative circumstances (Hebrews 12:2). Life wavers like the ocean, with a continuous ebb and flow, but You give us the words of the prayer, which never fails: “Father, not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42-43)

Thought for the Day:
When we trust God more and strive less, serenity seeps into every area of our life, no matter how the circumstances play out around us.

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