My tote bag broke a couple of months ago and I was thrilled to find a great replacement (on Amazon). The new bag is lightweight with sturdy short handles, several pockets and a telescopic handle. It has served me well so far this winter. As I navigate the slushy streets, I have to pick up the bag and slip it over my arm. I’m wearing a bulky coat and I find the handles are quite snug across my arm. If only they were just a little bit longer…
We’re having a very cold winter and my favourite coat is getting a lot of wear. It’s a taupe down-filled calf length weather proof coat. It has deep pockets, a zipper and snaps, and a nice hood that can be tightened. The collar zips right up to my chin – which is great on windy winter days. But it’s a snug fit, and it would be really great if was just a little bit looser…
Do you find yourself doing that? Looking at something that’s really good, saying ‘thank you Lord for giving this to me’! But soon, you find yourself thinking ‘I wish it was ___________’ Fill in the blank. Bigger? A different colour? Had another feature?
God often uses physical things to teach me spiritual principles. This lesson is two-fold: 1) I’m reminded that I often want things to be just a little bit easier and 2) even as I’m thanking the Lord for blessing me with something, I’m often thinking ‘if only it was a little more this, or a little less that’ – you get the idea. Thank you, Lord, this is really good, but not quite what I had in mind.
I am doing a 21 day fast this January and these thoughts are tweaking my conscience. Reminding me to do things the right way and not look for shortcuts. As part of my spiritual discipline, I decided to reading through Psalm 119 as well as the book of Proverbs (a chapter a day in January). I think you know what I’m going to confess, here… some days, I get home from work, tired, hungry, eager to take a shower, veg for an hour in front of the tube or laptop, and go to bed. Especially since one of the things I’m fasting is alcohol, and I can’t sit down and relax, think and talk to God, while sipping a glass of red wine. So I push through and do it, honouring my commitment even when it hurts.
The Enemy of my Soul
Compromise. It’s a tool that Satan delights in using to derail God’s children. So you skip a verse today, you can read two tomorrow. You deserve a treat, you’ve worked hard and had a super stressful day. Go ahead, do what you feel like doing, it doesn’t really matter. God won’t stop loving you, will He?
It can be hard to stay on track, especially when you’re tired or ill or worried. Sometimes the only way to do it is literally one tiny move, a minute at a time. You get home, take off your boots and coat and instead of heading for the TV, you sit down with your Bible. ‘I’ll just read one Psalm or one section of my Bible study book,’ you think. And maybe you do, and that’s OK. Or, once you start, you may surprise yourself and do more than you thought you would.
God is amazing! He knows what it took you to make that one tiny move. He appreciates it and he honours your efforts and encourages you onward. Press on and keep going forward, as the Apostle Paul teaches us. Don’t look back. Don’t let the backward pull of a mistake or misstep or even a sin allow you to give the Enemy a toehold. He’ll take it!
The full Armour of God
A few friends and I are attending a Bible study by Priscilla Shirer on The Full Armor of God. It promises to be a challenging but deeply rewarding study, as we examine the meaning of each piece, including the vital seventh one – prayer – which activates the power/protection of the others.
My goal is to learn how to apply each piece of armour in my own life. During the firsts teaching segment, was jumped out at me was the fact that Satan devises a personal strategy of attack against each of us. He knows your weakness and he knows how to exploit your strengths, too. It’s important to develop a strategy of your own to counter Satan’s learn.
Session 2 was on the belt of truth, how important it is because it strengthens your core, and all the other pieces of armour fit into it and are supported by it. The devil is sneaky. He’s not a leering creature in red, carrying a pitchfork. No, he disguises himself and offers lies and distortions and, if we don’t know the truth, we can easily fall for his clever lies. The belt of truth helps us distinguish between what’s right and what’s almost right. (More on this later; it’s a 7 week course.)
Wisdom – desirable and important
Wisdom is a key theme throughout Proverbs. What is wisdom? What is it not is just information or knowledge. They can be aspects of wisdom, but, as the Bible teaches, ‘what good is it if a person gains all the knowledge there is if he loses his soul?’ You can know a lot and be really intelligent, but that’s not enough. God is the author of truth and wisdom and only He can help us acquire and develop it.
Information may not be sound; human reasoning and understanding is flawed and imperfect. Which is why the Bible tells us that “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” Not the quaking-in-your-boots terror of being punished. Rather, the reverential honouring of the One who created us, knows us. Created the world and knows it. Created time and knows past, present and future simultaneously. Wisdom is learning from God how to live a life that lines up with his Word (which is truth) and honours him and helps us achieve our purpose: to become more like Jesus.
Who will you believe?
What does it mean to us and how we live? God wants the best for his children; he wants us to become our best selves – i.e., as much like Jesus as possible while keeping our unique personality and spirit. God cares more about our character than our comfort (paraphrasing Pastor Rick Warren). Character is comprised of every decision, tiny or large, that we make; moment by moment, day by day, year by year. Each will guide us along one of two roads: the way of life or the way of death.
Many of us who are born again Christians lived a period of our lives as carnal people unsubmitted to Jesus and without the protection and grace of God. We made choices that had consequences and we blithely plodded along the road that leads to death. We cannot transpose ourselves from one road to the other; Jesus is the only bridge. How wonderful it is to discover the truth – Jesus, who is THE way, truth and life.
Once we say “yes” to him, give our lives to him and receive Holy Spirit to help us live these new lives, then we’re on the right road – to life.
So my goal for 2018 is to devote more time and energy to strengthening my relationship with Jesus, just a little bit…