Walking with God

What does it take to walk with God?

Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

‎5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
‎And lean not on your own understanding;
‎6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
‎And He shall direct your paths.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart” – this could be the most difficult thing to do on a consistent, day-in, day-out basis – and it’s more than it appears on the surface. This requires trusting that the LORD’s will and His glory are the ultimate end-game, motivated by love and his desire for us to become more like Christ. This motiviation, this desire for our Christlikeness, is only part of the equation for His directing – making straight, leading, making smooth – our path – our way of life, way of living.

The equally important half of the equation is that we are to acknowledge Him in all our ways – our path, direction, manners, way of living, and moral character. Acknowleging Him is more than giving lip service. This word means to know by experience, to percieve, to recognize. Our life (“way”) should be such that other people can percieve, experience, and know God by experiencing Him – his characteristics, his attributes – in our lives.

The marriage of these two parts of the equation put us in a place to walk in the paths God has directed – made straight and smooth. Our failure is engaging our own minds and our own understanding when

1) things are going well – thinking we had anything to do with it.. It might be intentional, it might be subconsiously, but we begin to tell God, “thanks, but I’ve got this…” and lean on our own understanding.It also

2) thing aren’t going well. We start trying to understand why. Instead we need to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart…” God has a plan. God loves us enough to allow circumstances that aren’t pleasant. Think of Jonah. God had to get through to Jonah and he was willing put all the other men on the same boat as Jonah in jeopardy as he brought the storms on Jonah.

Walking with God doesn’t mean level paths and flowers. Somtimes it can be a difficult and seemingly dangerous journey – but as we learn to trust him with ALL our heart, we aren’t moved or intimidated by our surrounding circumstances.

The Key to Self Control – James 3:2

If you haven’t noticed, I’m going through James for the next 30 days, 1 chapter per day and repeating 6 times… so I guess I’m writing a series…

James 3:2 (NLT) Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

This isn’t the first time that James has referenced “…we would be perfect…”  Look back to James 1:4 – “…when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete…”

Only Jesus is perfect and can “… control (himself) in every way (James 3:2)” and “…lacks nothing (James 1:4).”  James is clearly instructing us (the church) in how to become like Jesus.

What does it mean to “… control ourselves in every way?”  Isn’t that exactly what we all struggle with in some sort or another?  It seems to me that this is mean exactly what it says…. controlling every other aspect of our lives…

According to this passage, controlling our tongue is the key to self control.

Why?  James goes on in verses 3-7 to give examples of how something so small (a bit in a horse’s mouth, a rudder on a ship, a spark to a fire) can have such great impact.  Those examples imply that our tongue control/leads, guides and ignites our lives.

In verses 9-12 James gives examples of impossibilities in nature – a spring that gives both salty and fresh water; a tree that produces olives and figs – and how it should also be impossible for us to praise and curse.

These are certainly compelling arguments from James, but are there any other scriptures that validate or corroborate the idea of our tongue being the key to self control?

How about starting with Jesus?

Matthew 15:18-21 “18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”

Matthew 12:33-35 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.

Proverbs 18: 20-21 (NKJV) 20 A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; From the produce of his lips he shall be filled. 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

So it starts in our heart.  What we put in, is what we get out.  It is imperative that we flood our heart with good… to abundance.  Jesus said it.  What  is in abundance in our hearts is what comes out of our mouths.  What comes out of our mouths controls, leads, guides and ignites our lives.

In a previous post I wrote extensively about why and how the heart/words connection is so important (2nd point in the post – it’s worth the read).  I’m convinced that self-control is so tied to how we spiritually feed our hearts.

Our church is starting a new series this week on exactly this.  It’s entitled “Words: Life or Death” and my pastor is one of the best teachers I’ve ever heard. If you can’t come to the service, you should watch it online next week.

Come on – leave a comment.  Let’s discuss this.

Running After Papa…

Overcoming – Updated (Rev 12:11)

How do we REALLY overcome the power of sin in our lives? UPDATED…

How do we overcome the power of sin in our lives?

I was recently listening to “Overcome” by Jon Egan and the Desperation Band on the way home from my son’s Lacrosse game, when I was captured by one of the lyrics at the end of the song.  I’ve sung this song dozens of time, so it wasn’t a new song for me, but this time something clicked.  The repeated lyric is “And we will overcome, by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, everyone overcome.”   Revelation 12:11 is the verse that bridge it taken from.

Revelation 12:11 (NKJV) “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

I really began to ask the Lord about it.  So how do we overcome?  What is the significance of this verse?  How does the rubber meet the road and why?  (If you read my blogs very often, you’ll find that’s a very common question I ask…)

1. The blood of the Lamb

First things first… This is the fulfillment of God’s law.  This gives us the LEGAL RIGHT TO OVERCOME.  Hebrews 9:22 (ESV) “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” When we’ve been washed in the blood of the Lamb, we are forever the possession of God himself.  There is MUCH that could be said here, but that’s for another day…  Here’s the meat of this post…

2. The word of their [our] testimony

This is gives us the POWER TO OVERCOME.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  We’re all familiar with Proverbs 18:21 “21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”  But for me, in getting to that verse, I’ve glossed over the prior one, verse 20.

Proverbs 18: 20-21 (NKJV) 20 A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; From the produce of his lips he shall be filled. 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

When those two verses are put together, we’re talking about a whole meal!  What we claim – the words that we speak – is what will fill our stomachs.  This is a very interesting picture as the stomach is essentially where digestion of our physical food begins after we eat.  “You are what you eat,”  is a saying we learned to help us make healthy choices of our meals.  How appropriate! So it is with the words we speak.  When we speak words, we listen to those words, we hear those words, we believe those words – we digest those words.  When we speak words of defeat over our lives, our character, our circumstances, our children, etc., etc., we begin digesting those words.  Those words “satisfy” our stomach and we continue to live in those things we believe.  “You are what you eat,” becomes much more like “You are what you speak.

It’s time to stop the madness! It’s time to begin confessing the words of life.  Even if it’s not evident yet, speak it.  For example,  “I was unhappy, but God has given me joy and helped me overcome. (Gal 5:22)” or “I was an angry man; but God has given me patience and helped me overcome. (I Cor 13:4)” or “I was afraid and let fear rule my circumstances, but God has given me a spirit of power, love and a sound mind and helped me overcome. (2 Tim 1:7)Speak what God has or is making you BASED on what HE says about you in his Word – the Bible.

Hear me… I am NOT advocating a “name it and claim it” theology.  God is NOT a Genie, but there is a “working out” of our salvation.  There is a process of transformation and I believe renewing our mind with the Word of God and what God says about us is part of that process.

The word of your testimony is what breaks the power of sin in your life, but only if you’ve been bought by the blood of the Lamb.

3. They died to themselves

… and they did not loves their lives to the death,” is how Rev 12:11 ends.  This is the MEASURE OF OVERCOMING!

Galatians 2:20 (NKJV) “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

I find this to be the most difficult verse in the Bible to really live out.  My wants, my desires, my needs, my expectations, my rights… and the list goes on.  If I’m offended, my flesh is probably alive.  If I am angry, my flesh is probably alive.  If I feel slighted, cheated, short changed, cut off, hindered, delayed or detained, my flesh is probably alive.

Only when I am fully dead to me, can I be fully alive in Christ.

THIS is overcoming defined!

So here are three questions for today’s take-away:

1.  Are you legally God’s? This is critical and the first thing and most important thing.  All eternity rides on the answer to this one.  Without #1, you can’t do #2.

2. What is God helping you overcome in your life? Speak it OUT LOUD! verbalize it!  Hear yourself say it audibly!

3.  What part of you do you need to die to? This IS the victory!

If you want to discuss the answer to any of these questions, email me at shoe@runningafterpapa.com.

Running After Papa…

Overcoming (Rev 12:11)

I was listening to Overcome by Jon Egan and the Desperation Band.  The following verse is a bridge that’s sung over and over in the song.  As I was worshiping, the words of this verse really came alive and began to speak to me.

Revelation 12:11 (NKJV) “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

So how do we overcome?

1. The blood of the Lamb

This is the fulfillment of the law of God that breaks satan’s legal right and claim to us.  And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. ”  (Heb 9:22, NKJV) When we’ve been washed in the blood of the Lamb, we are forever the possession of God himself.  There is much that could be said here, but that’s another post.

2. The word of their testimony

This is where we can break the power of sin the enemy holds over us.  This is where the rubber meets the road.

Proverbs 18: 20-21 (NKJV)

20 A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; From the produce of his lips he shall be filled.
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

What we claim – what we speak – is what will fill our stomachs.  Interesting picture as the stomach is essentially where digestion of our physical food begins after we eat.  So it goes with the words we speak.  When we speak words, we listen, we hear, we believe – we digest – those words.  “You are what you eat,” directly applies here!

It’s time to begin confessing the words of life.  Even if it’s not evident yet, speak it.  “I was a hypocrite, but God has helped me overcome.” or “I was an angry man; but God has helped me overcome.”  Speak what God has or is making you.

The word of your testimony is what breaks the power of sin in your life, but only if you’ve been bought by the blood of the Lamb.

1.  Are you legally God’s? This is critical and the first thing.  Without #1, you can’t do #2.

2. What is God helping you overcome in your life? Speak it OUT LOUD! verbalize it!  Hear yourself say it audibly!

Pure Wisdom

James 3:13-18 (NLT)
13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

“If you are wise…” James begins, and then he throws it down with “prove it!” Prov 9:10 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy one is understanding.” A simple substitution of wisdom with “Fear the Lord” would change the context of this passage.

If you fear the Lord… prove it by living a life based in humility. Obviously paraphrased, but kind of a a “duh” moment for me this morning. Who am I compared to the Lord? Of course I fear and revere Him, so why should I do anything outside of an attitude of humility? Just because of who He is, should be enough to keep me on my face. But often time it isn’t.

Here’s where Papa took me with this…. v14 talks about “… selfish ambition…” and not to cover it up, but for me, to search deep in my heart to see if it’s lurking because selfish ambition and jealously open the door for the enemy to come in like a flood (v15). The ESV says that it is “… earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.” That scared me, because jealousy and selfish ambition are a couple of things I tend to (and I imagine many do) struggle with and I do not want to open any doors to the enemy. Verse 16 goes on to say that every “... vile practice (ESV)” comes along with jealousy and selfishness. Yikes!

So how do I gauge my wisdom? How do I gauge how much I fear the Lord? v17 explains… First off it is pure (which means reverent or sacred). James goes on to list a “checklist” of how I am to live. Man I hate checklists. I always so far short. Anyway, here it comes.

  • Pure – Am I reverent to and regarding the Lord?
  • Peace Loving – do I bring peace to the situations I am in?
  • Gentile at ALL times – ALL times?
  • Willing to Yield to others – Do I always want my own way?
  • FULL of Mercy – not just occasional mercy…
  • FULL of Good Deeds
  • Shows no Favoritism – see yesterday’s post on James 2 (Through His Eyes)
  • Always Sincere – Always? Yikes!

Thank you Lord for your mercy where I fall short. If I continue to live in my own strength, I will never check off this list. If I choose to die to myself (Gal 2:20), then and only then is this kind of life possible. With this kind of life is promised a harvest of what we sow. Sow peace. Sow peace.

What harvest do I want?  What seeds am I sowing