Warning: Contains Graphic Image
One of the main reasons we miss out on experiencing the presence of God in our lives is because our thoughts are too consumed by the physical world. We focus on our material comforts, our desires, our careers, our families, our looks, our fun or our reputation. These are the ‘beautiful things’ placed before the throne of God by the enemy, to distract us from pursuing righteousness. They are responsible for hardening our hearts, and building pride, which prevents God from being able to intimately connect with us.
We protect our own worldly desires and our reputations so much, yet we may be inspired by a vital piece of the puzzle when understanding the lessons constructed within the sacrifice of Christ.
Consider for a moment that the King of Kings, glorified by angels, the highest authority in all the universe, lost His reputation and respect, gave up His position and His worldly desires, endured the lowest form of humiliation and abasement, by undertaking a criminals torture and death. Offering His blood to flow as the cleansing waterfall, for us to be able to connect with God, becoming blameless through Him! He gave up His comfort and reputation FOR US!
I need a moment to let that sit on my heart and let the tears clear from my eyes….
How can we expect to be intimate with God if we give up nothing for Him in return for His sacrifice for us, or even fail to acknowledge it?
If we have a ‘God-sized’ hole in our hearts, there is nothing of this world that will fill it. The only way to feel whole, is to fill ourselves with the love of Christ first, before anything from the physical realm. This includes relationships, good times, wealth, knowledge etc. By giving back to God the things of the world we have held onto in our hearts, we move into a new phase of a supple mindset and heart.
Once we accept that the ‘world’ is not meeting our expectations or filling that void inside us, and instead move God into that space, by making Him come first. Then we can begin, bit by bit, to let go of our grip on the comforts of the world and the hold they have over us. This is required if we are to have an experiential awareness of God. We can begin to understand and accept that there are purposes behind enduring suffering throughout our time here.
“And he said to them all, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man’s advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?'” Luke 9:23-25 (KJV)
Taking up our cross daily is the equivalent of an unselfish willingness to suffer, to pray for strength of faith instead praying for more comfort. God is more concerned with our character than our comfort. Giving up our lives doesn’t necessarily mean bringing about our death. God certainly means us no harm, and this is proven especially if we recognise that Christ came to free us from death and give us life. Giving up our lives means being willing to let God use our life for His cause, to cling to Him through our suffering. It means, no matter what suffering we endure, our faithfulness allows God’s strength to be perfected in our weakness.
We must expect to face some persecution for our faith, for we become different to those of the world. Singer songwriter Amy Grant sang the lyrics..”When the world begins to see you change, don’t expect them to applaud.” Fear not, for in due time the Lord will vindicate those who are His children.
We may also endure physical ailments, which act as our own experience of the “thorn in the flesh”, a condition to keep us humble, for the miracles we can achieve with God in charge of our lives can very quickly puff us up with pride.
My car accident, for example, left me with injuries that weakened me, yet at that time God used me for some miraculous experiences through my faithful obedience. More experiences than I can remember, it was a time of daily miracles. I would have claimed the glory for myself had I not been exposed to the weakness that my physical body was restricted by. I knew I was not capable of being strong faithfully because at a time I was so bottomed out by psychological and physical damage.
Through our willingness to suffer as Christ did, in a metaphorical sense, we grow in intimacy and unity with God, our hunger and need for Him causes us to step into the miracles He can perform through us.
A way to help us tolerate the suffering, comes when we accept that this world is only temporary, much better awaits those who have been called into salvation and eternity. Is it easy? Absolutely not! I can tell you however, that it is WORTH IT!
Everything you sacrifice unto the Lord, He will return 100 fold!
“And every one that hath left houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life.” Matt 19:29 (ASV)
This is the 6th post in the series ‘Gaining Help from Above’. Check out the previous posts Connection, Accepting an Encounter, Security, Control & Nourishment, if you haven’t already, and here is the link to the next post in this series…
Nourishment is defined as – “The substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.”
This is probably the most obvious post, which many of you knew was coming in this series. The word of God is immeasurable nourishment for achieving a healthy heart and building a relationship with the Almighty. Unfortunately it has been known to fall into the wrong hands, it has been misused as a tool to condemn, judge, and control way too many people over the years. I have come to realise one very important thing about the Bible, and that is that it is a personal book, not a public one. Sure, we share scriptures to back up our theories and we use them to encourage or even reprove others, but all in all what God inspires in each word changes for each person, according to where they are at in their walk with Him. This is why there are references to the ‘secrets’ of God’s word.
“And he said, To you is given knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to the others, they are given in stories, so that seeing, they may not see, and though they give hearing, the sense will not be clear to them.” Luke 8:10 (BBE)
Secrets are defined as – Something that is kept or meant to be kept unknown or unseen by others. Something that is not properly understood; a mystery.
There are only two, who can know for sure what God is saying to you through His word. One is you, with your heart after Him, and the other is God! That’s it! Others can guess, they can speculate, they can advise, they can theorize, however God and God alone is the only one who’s guidance we must take, any advice must be checked back with Him and await confirmation, before anything can be known for certain. Read here for more on confirmation and deception.
“Out of the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be confirmed”. 2 Cor 13:1 (MNT)
Abraham, the father and patriarch of the Hebrew nation, had no scriptures, he had a relationship with God. God poured promises deep into Abraham’s soul. Angels were sent to bring more fortuitous assurances. God spoke directly and the willing heart of Abraham believed and obeyed. In today’s scope of interactions with God, many of our imaginings about the ‘Words from God’ have become contaminated by false prophets and counterfeit deities. So we must have discernment and not swallow anything whole. We must chew it over with prayer and nourishment, we must give God the chance to confirm what it is that He is trying to tell us.
When we begin to build a relationship with someone, we spend time getting to know them. Reading the scriptures is a way of getting to know God and what His principles are. The stories and history recorded were written by those who had a deep relationship with God, and while there may be much confusion and debate over interpretation, there is much opportunity for growth for those who are willing to pursue it.
“Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so.” Acts 17:11 (ASV)
The first thing I can hear you saying, based on what I said at the beginning of my own adult walk is, “But it’s hard and boring, and I don’t feel like reading the Bible”.
Something extremely important to recognise before we begin to read God’s word, is that the enemy is real and is out to destroy any hope we have of reaching the potential that God has in store for us. He has access to our flesh and uses it to pull us away from God and the disciplines we must apply in order to overcome it.
This is just like any other discipline, take for example physical exercise, we all know it is good for us, we all know that it will help us improve many areas of our lives, yet our flesh resists it. Even once we get going, we begin to feel the weight and pressure of keeping it up and we want to quit. Prayer is the same, try praying to God for 10 minutes. We can talk on the phone with our friends easily for 10 minutes, but test and see how hard it is to talk to God for that long. Our flesh distracts us, it feels like we simply cannot do it!
Reading the word of God also brings out this resistance, especially at first. Even when we pick it up and open somewhere and begin to read, it is like the words all overlap on the page, we find ourselves reading the same line over and over and not taking anything in. Or we open up at a genetic listing, a whole chapter dedicated to someone who ‘begat’ someone else, to the next generation and so on and so on. My advice is to press on, turn a few pages, pray for help to be able to read and understand. The Bible may be many things, however, “boring’ is not one of them, this is another trick from the enemy. We need to open up our hearts and let God in through His word. We need to acknowledge the enemy in our flesh and find the willingness to overcome it.
We can’t treat the Bible like any other book, reading from the front page through to the last. Each Book of the Bible is a whole book in itself, both filling and worth meditation. Before I open it up just anywhere, I pray and ask God to guide my eyes to find the words He wants me to read. If nothing makes sense after a little while, then start at the beginning of that chapter, if it still doesn’t connect then start at the beginning of that book. Another good idea is to make a note of the section you opened to and go back and check to see if it makes sense in a few days time. That can be mind-blowing!
Just like we need to eat healthy nutritious food to keep our bodies in top condition, we also need to read God’s word to keep our hearts in top condition.
‘Jesus answered, “Scripture says, ‘A person cannot live on bread alone but on every word that God speaks.'” Matthew 4:4
“Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.” Isaiah 55:2-3
‘Nourishment’ is the 5th post within the series, ‘Gaining Help from Above’. Previous posts include, Connection, Accepting and Encounter, Security, and Control. Keep an eye out for more posts to come, Blessings to you!
Don’t you just love how a new connection with someone can bring some clarity and meaning to your world? I have made many wonderful new connections in the Blogosphere and I am so grateful for you all. For the first time in my faith walk I feel more connected to the (too often divided) ‘Body of Christ’ than I had been able to perceive before. I feel greatly blessed by that.
I have also made a few new connections in the ‘real world’ recently as well. I love how people challenge me to wrap my head around their unique perspectives, established by their own personal journey, and yet also how many common elements we share.
How awesome is our Lord to be able to create such different and individual experiences, yet still bring us across people we share so much common ground with! It blows my mind!
I was sharing recently with one of these ‘new connections’ and was grateful for the honest way she opened her heart to me. I felt it may have been unfamiliar for her to share her weaknesses without fear of judgment or condemnation.
This world teaches us very quickly to hide our imperfections from others, yet when we share them in a safe place, the deep affiliation felt can be extremely healing.
After some time spent sharing, she asked me about the most priceless connection anyone can ever make: She asked…
“What can I do to gain help and guidance from God?”
It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to realise how complex this question is, yet I softened my heart to her situation and tried to remember what it was that struck a chord within my own heart before I let God take more control of my life. I spoke for a few minutes about a number of things, which I can hardly recall to share here, however after I left her I found a still, small voice adding to our conversation in my thoughts. So I decided to let it flow out into the Blogosphere.
I hope that in my response I spoke to her about the limits we place on God. We often assume that He is simply too busy to be bothered with the details of our personal lives. We imagine Him as very far off, we don’t see much opportunity to reach Him and make contact. When the truth is that He is pressing up against our lives, closer than you or I can imagine, waiting patiently to connect with us. Without previous awareness of His involvement in our lives, or an experiential spiritual perspective, it can be difficult to know how or if He can even help us.
So in order to genuinely connect with God, first we need to recognise that He is abundant and has NO LIMITS, we simply can’t conceive that in it’s entirety from our human mind. It is a humbling event to acknowledge that we do not know how much He knows, or why He does what He does and doesn’t do, or how many arrangements He has made behind the scenes of our lives, setting up every situation to encourage us to a place of soft-hearted humility so we will be more open to Him and His will. We can speculate and study, we can debate and discuss theology, we can assume and guess, we can war and argue, but we are unable to completely understand as long as we are trapped by the limited mindset of humanity. It is hard to comprehend His intense love for us and His unlimited power, because we are trying to expand our thoughts to a point which we have no mind power to reach. It takes much more than knowledge or understanding, it takes Faith!
We often become very confused about God because we have so many mis-perceptions of sin and forgiveness, blame and innocence, which we let distance us from Him, and we regularly miss the subtle yet more important reasons for any feelings of distance… For instance, when we try to be our own ‘God’ by holding tight control, rather than trusting Him with the choices and direction of our lives. Or when we hold bitterness towards Him for our own, and the rest of the world’s, suffering. Without any understanding of the systems outside our physical lives that are being empowered for our own good in the long term, in other words, our salvation and spiritual position. We let that bitterness become our reasoning not to trust Him….
We take away His power when we think we understand more than we do and believe we have enough will-power to not need to rely on Him.
We believe quotes that claim ‘life wasn’t meant to be easy’, yet we get angry at God when it is hard.
An imperative aspect to gaining Christ-likeness is the willingness to suffer for moments in our lifetime and trust that there are reasons we do not yet understand. Better that, than risk losing our possible position in an eternity of basking in the awesome presence and love of the Almighty, due to our own gall.
St. Anselm of Canterbury wrote –
“I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe… but I believe in order to understand.”
Here is the link to the next post in this series…There’s much more to Gaining Help from Above….
Some years ago a series of events led me to understand that God was calling me. It took me a long time to swallow chunks of the pride I had relied upon since childhood, and answer Him, but when I did ….OH BOY!
My eyes were opened to the huge pile of sins I had been building up to the heavens, and all the time up to that point I had thought of myself as a “Good person”, better than ‘most’ anyway.
I believed in God and had no other God’s (not understanding that I let everything in my life control me rather than Him, He was always the ‘Last Resort’). I had no graven images (besides a few healing crystals, some tarot cards, plenty of pagan witchcraft symbols and ornaments, but I didn’t really believe in them, did I?) I honoured my Mother (as long as I was getting what I wanted) – (My Dad was out of the picture mostly up to that point, so I didn’t need to honour him, did I?) I certainly didn’t kill anyone (although I let my anger get so out of control that I spoke it out without a second thought). I didn’t covert anything (of course I was envious of everything anyone had that I wanted, but I let no one know about it, so that’s not the same thing is it? It’s normal to want to be happy and fulfilled, right?) I didn’t steal (much) or fall into adultery (well not the whole way) I remembered the Sabbath (Yep I remembered that my Mum left my Dad on a Sabbath, and that was it. If I happened to be resting on a Sunday it was because I was too hung-over to move!) I didn’t take the Lords name in vain (If you mean saying it in anger, then maybe a little, but only when I was really angry, which I suppose was a LOT) And I would never lie (unless it was for a good reason, which I could usually come up with every other day)
So there are all Ten Commandments broken! Shattered! And that is only the beginning!
I thought I was a loving person to my fellow man, but I realised I manipulated others with kindness into making me ‘happy’. I gave gifts and cooked meals, but was it really from a good place of generosity, or because it was expected and I wanted to appear good? I did like giving gifts and being kind and working hard, but I was not honestly in-touch with my heart enough to know what my true motives were. I believed the first reason or excuse I could come up with, without questioning the possibility of it being from a place of flesh, not from a Christ-like heart.
I can go on and on to list more and more of my sins. I could speak of my selfishness or my bad temper, of my weakness in temptation, or my provocative nature. I could speak of my materialistic tendencies, or my impatience and fear when I do not trust God. I could tell you of the countless times I listen to the lies of the enemy and let them convince me to act in all manner of sinful bitterness and hatred toward others. God knows them all and I continue to confess them every day, as they rear their ugly heads. No matter how many ‘good deeds’ I do, I will never pay the price and take away my blame. I can never do anything worthy of taking away the amount of shame I deserve to feel for my heart of flesh and worldliness.
Thankfully, through one Son’s sacrifice, breaking all these laws is not my one-way ticket to an eternity of torture and pain. God realises that we are incapable of upholding all these laws, they are there to show us our sin. That we may look at them and measure ourselves against them and become aware of how far from God’s will we actually are.
“Why then was the Law given? It was imposed later on for the sake of defining sin” Gal 3:19 (WEY)
“Know that it is NOT through obedience to Law that a man can be declared free from guilt, but only through FAITH in Jesus Christ. We have therefore believed in Christ Jesus, for the purpose of being declared FREE from guilt, through FAITH in Christ and NOT through obedience to Law. For through obedience to Law NO human being shall be declared free from guilt.” Gal 2:16 (WEY)
It is an understatement to say how lucky we are that the price has been paid for all the sins we have committed, and the ones we continue in as long as we are in the flesh of our human bodies. It is an understatement to say how truly blessed we are that God chose to give us grace and forgiveness through His Son, and free us from the laws, and from the penalty of death for our sins. For none of us, not one of us, are blameless.
If we look at another and say to ourselves “Their sins are worse than mine” then we are missing the point entirely!
We haven’t been forgiven because we aren’t ‘that bad’, we are the pits! We all are, because we are all separated from God while here on earth, because we all have flesh that our inner enemy can use against us!
We are forgiven because the Messiah suffered and shed His innocent blood to pay the price, to stand before God and say “They can come in. They are saved because I have paid the debt against them.”
Thank you, Thank you Lord! To You be the Glory Forever!!
When I posted ‘When will we feel good enough?’ recently, I received a comment which sparked an outpouring of my spirit. One of my readers mentioned the guilty feelings of self-condemnation which still linger in her mind even after many years of learning to “lay off” and stop criticising and punishing herself for not being perfect. As I attempted to reply underneath I found the keyboard took on a life of its own and after a few minutes I had written this blog post (I thought it a bit too important to hide in the comment box and not share openly with you all). It has more ‘Theological talk’ than I usually like to put into my blog, as my aim is also to reach those outside the church. I am sorry if this is too ‘heavy’ for anyone and I am happy to try to answer any questions about the things I’ve explained here.
I understand how this feels, it took a car accident and nervous breakdown for me to address viewing myself through the judgmental eyes of others, or even the condemning eyes I had been viewing myself with for so long. It is a hard habit to break indeed, a lot of therapy and a long faith walk, yet it still hovers in the back of my mind. That is up until I address it, I now know that I need to go back and read my prayer journal and remember all the things I have learned about myself, about God, about my inner enemies and my army of inner angels.
I have come to find there are two ‘voices of guilt’.
One is the Holy Spirit convicting our hearts when we are in fact guilty of something which is causing a blockage between us and God. I have found usually pride is the one hardest to see for ourselves, and its easy to also avoid recognising more obvious ones, such as sinful anger, lying, idolatry, bitterness, and self-indulgence just to name a few. When we are guilty of anything, the Holy Spirit is sent to help us feel it accordingly. Through repentance of sin, explained in my previously mentioned post, we can be absolved of these sins and set free by God’s love, mercy and grace, to feel ‘Good Enough’.
When the Spirit of God is being nurtured inside us, we desire to be perfect. This is because the Spirit of God is perfect but is housed within our imperfect human hearts. The spirit is desiring to be perfect rather than actually feeling it’s pure perfection, due to being covered by our flesh (sin). Flesh became the access point of our inner enemies when Adam and Eve ate the ‘fruit’. This is why the saying “The flesh is weak” is so common.
So therefore the other ‘voice of guilt’, is the false guilt of our inner enemy, whose purpose is to gain access to us and deter our hearts from being open to God’s all powerful, healing Love.
Our inner enemy does not want us to feel God’s Love because it will weaken both the enemy within, and strengthen our flesh, time and time again. The enemy can’t allow that to happen without a fight because he will increasingly lose access to us, so we are fed lies of guilt and thoughts of not being ‘perfect enough’ in an attempt to dilute our faith and trust in God’s love.
So while I still hear the voice of guilt as many others do, I understand that I must discern which voice is talking to my heart and take the appropriate action. If it is the enemy trying to falsely condemn me then I need to use my inner angels to fight him off, and focus hard on God’s love for me. I recommend we all try this method when dealing with false guilt.
Prayers & Blessing to you.
This post is another one super hard for me to publish, while I have been brought into an understanding of these things, I have spent many years avoiding sharing these insights with anyone, except for some family members and 1 or 2 faithful friends. This is because it is usually too heavy and complex for those outside the church, and I come across too young and secular when discussing within the church. I often feel I have no audience for this type of talk and therefore just try to keep it to myself. I pray my reader is helped a little by it.