Of With The Old And On With The New

Romans 12:2 (BSB) “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

Why doesn’t God want us conformed to the world and its ways, how come I can’t act and talk just like my unsaved friends and family? One reason is that we aren’t of the world, we don’t really belong to it anymore. We were bought by Jesus’ blood and what a precious price He paid for us. We are born again from Heaven, we should be different. Also, when we don’t allow the Word to transform, renew, clean up our minds, then we can’t rightly discern God’s will. Since His will is good, pleasing, and perfect wouldn’t we want to know what that is for our lives.

Ephesians 4:23-23 (ESV), “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

God made us brand new when we accepted His love and surrendered all our junk to Him and His forgiveness so why then does He tell me to “put off” and “put on”, because we live in a corrupt place. It tends to rub off on us. Our minds get dirty, our hearts get hard, and our vision gets cloudy. It all has to be washed away again. Just like our clothes get dirty when we work in the yard, we have to come in and take off the soiled and put on the clean, so it is with our hearts and minds.

If we didn’t change those clothes and maybe even take a shower, after a couple of days we’d stink. After a few more so would out houses and our cars. Before too long people wouldn’t want to be around us and we would withdraw into our own smelly world and refuse to come out. Who wants to live that way? I sure don’t. I want others to want to be around me. I want to be a pleasing aroma to God and to man. I want a clean heart, a clean mind, and clean hands. However, it’s not in my power to stay clean. It takes the Holy Spirit and a lot of the “washing of the word” to keep me that way. It takes being humble and admitting everything doesn’t smell like roses, admitting we let the mess get too big for us and we need some divine intervention.

His way is better!

I say off with the old and on with the new!

I John 3:1-3 (NIV), See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”

 

I Am Loved

We have been singing a new song in Church and it has literally been going through my head nonstop. I wake up with it in my noggin, I hear it when I am doing dishes, I am singing it at the sewing machine, and humming it while reading!

I don’t have anything memorized except the chorus, and this is it: “You’re a good, good Father. That’s who you are, that’s who You are. And I am loved by You, that’s who I am, that’s who I am.”

This is a great improvement on the toddler  songs that normally run through my head (I keep my two year old grandson Mon-Fri).

I didn’t sleep well last night. I stayed up too late to finish a good book, then Hubby was snoring, not a normal thing for him. Finally sometime after 11:30 I drifted off, only to wake up at 3:30. Sometimes God wakes me up to pray, this wasn’t one of those times, but I figured I didn’t have anything else to do, so I prayed. I prayed for some situations in my life that needed changing, but mostly I prayed for others. After a bit, God brought to mind some of my students from years ago and I lifted them in prayer. I prayed for some family members that are struggling, and I prayed for my children (and theirs). In fact I fell asleep praying.

The alarm was way too early at 5:30. I’ll give you three guesses as to what was going through my head… Yep, “You’re a good, good Father. That’s who you are, that’s who You are. And I am loved by You, that’s who I am, that’s who I am.”

My usual morning routine consists of reading my bible, while Eddie gets up and gets ready for work. Then we pray together, and he leaves. After my morning devotions, I head down for a cup of coffee and wait on my boy. This morning, Eddie got up, and I laid in the bed, not moving and half asleep. Before I could even wake up enough to think about reading my Bible, my sleepy mind contained this thought, “There is only two things I need to know. One, He’s a good, good Daddy, and two, He loves me.”

I woke up then and thought about the simple, profound truth in that. That’s the answer to everything!

“Now, Jodi, that’s overly simplifying things,” I hear you say.

However, I am sticking to it. Do you need healing? He’s a good Father and He loves you. Do need a financial breakthrough? He’s a good Father and He loves you. Do you need help in your marriage, or another relationship? He’s a good Father and He loves you. Are you broken and hurt? Grieving? Depressed? He’s a good Father and He loves you.

A loving Father wants to see His children healed and whole, lacking nothing, happy and at peace. Here is the good news, listen, HE HAS THE POWER TO GIVE YOU THOSE THINGS!

Ephesians 3:19-20 (NLT), “May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”

Peace and Confidence

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John 14:27 (NIV), “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Our peace and confidence do not depend on our performance. It all depends on Jesus’ finished work on the cross.

John 14:27 (NLT), “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

Our confidence does not depend on us, the government, our boss, our Pastor, our spouse, or the Church. It is OK to be confident in people but we can’t depend on them as our source of confidence and peace. They will all at one time or another fall short of our expectations or what we need done in our lives. When all those people and things fail us our confidence in the Father still remains. No matter what things may look like, we can be confident that He is working things out for our good. If we are truly His and we aren’t just practicing religion, then His promises are “Yes and Amen.” God alone is faithful enough to put all of our trust, to depend on for our peace. Jesus said it was a gift! We don’t earn a gift; it is given out of love.

Philippians 1:6 (NASB), “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

He won’t leave you high and dry. He’s the one who chose you. He is the one who wooed you and gave you that new heart. Surely He will finish all of the things He started.

Jesus was crucified-He rose from the dead-He took the keys to death and Hell-He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God. He did it! It’s a done deal.

Be confident in that!

Rest

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Matthew 11:28-29 (NLT), “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

My spirit is confident in the finished work of Jesus. Yet, I still find myself feeling overwhelmed at times. Have you ever had one of those days when you feel like a hamster on a exercise wheel going round and round and not getting anywhere? Or maybe you thought you had finished your “to do” list only to find a million other things that need to be added? Maybe you are burdened with a big mortgage and not sure how you can make the payments. Sometimes it feel like you are a beast of burden that has an iron yoke around your neck. Possibly you are weary of work, any work, all work, work, work, work…

There is rest.

We aren’t under the Law any more, but there still remains a “Sabbath” rest for God’s people. The good news is that it isn’t a one day a week rest, it’s a full time, all the time rest.

Hebrews 4:9-11 (AMP), “So there remains a [full and complete] Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has once entered His rest has also rested from [the weariness and pain of] his [human] labors, just as God rested from [those labors uniquely] His own. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], so that no one will fall by following the same example of disobedience [as those who died in the wilderness].”

More good news, the work that we do is to enter into His rest.

What? I know it doesn’t make sense, but seriously a lot of what God asks us or tells us to do doesn’t. Work to rest? A paradox. Just like a Lion is a Lamb, the Sinless One became sin, God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How about this one, we surrender to get victory. We give up to get it all. I could keep going but you get the picture. Our minds are limited to our five senses. What we can see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. Our body is bound by time, and laws of nature. That’s why we can’t use our minds to figure God out. We walk in and by Faith.

When we understand, a heart understanding, who God is, who we are, and what our place is in His plans, we can be confident that no matter how bad things look, how bad we mess up, how many bad choices we make, His plan doesn’t change. It takes off all of the pressure. We do go to work. We apply ourselves at our jobs, but they aren’t our source, God is, heaven is. It’s not us that has to change the world. We just do what God says, and He changes hearts. The pressure isn’t on our great witnessing, or lack of it. It all hinges on just getting in a right relationship with the Father and letting Him use us however He sees fit.

Just like peace isn’t the absence of war, rest isn’t the absence of work!

Both are conditions of the heart.

We can be at peace and rest in confidence that He loves us.

So, on those days that I feel harassed or overworked it’s because I forgot the most important “work”, fellowship with Him. Not lip service, not fast-food ordering up blessings, not praying for my four and no more, but taking time to share and to listen.

Honestly, starting your day with acknowledging Him as Lord and master, telling Him how much you love Him, and allowing Him to reciprocate, will make your day go so much smoother. Not perfect or stress free, just 99.9 percent better.

Try it.

Rest… In Daddy’s arms.

Some Christmas Love

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Luke 2:8-15 (AKJ), “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, see, the angel of the Lord came on them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said to them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign to you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

I think that is good news don’t you? God’s message that night? “Peace on earth and good will towards man.” Aren’t you glad is wasn’t “Chaos and trouble on earth and I sure am angry with men.”

He had reason to be irritated with His creation. He could have left us to our own wicked devices and allowed the world to “go to Hell in a hand basket.” However, His message that night wasn’t that we get what we deserved, no! It was “I love you.”

Sure He knew how wicked man had become, that’s why He made a way, from before the foundation of the worlds, to show us Ultimate Love. God hanging on a tree. His love poured out to us, just like the blood that flowed from His broken body.

With God, we may reap what we sow, but we don’t get what we deserve. I deserved Hell, how about you? But, I won’t see it! Nope, the closest thing to Hell I will ever experience was my life without Him, before I surrendered my heart to His love. That was bad enough.

Now that we know this “good news” and have experienced it first hand- go and tell someone else!

Isaiah 52:7 (NIV), “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

When It Doesn’t Look Good

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I Chronicles 29:10-12 (KJV), “Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.”

Sometimes life throws us a curve ball or Satan gives us a sucker punch. There are even times that we have gotten ourselves in a fine mess and things aren’t looking so good. It’s easy to start the pity party, to seclude ourselves from others, or worse find everyone we know and whine and complain about how rotten our lives are. I’ve done it. It’s our “hour of flesh” that sometimes lasts days. What a way to glorify God, Huh? Who wants to be part of a kingdom whose subjects are not happy campers. By our self indulged pity parties we are showing our lack of faith in He Who IS Faithful…

So what is a brother or sister to do in these times? Well, first if you have already started the party I just mentioned, repent! Then, if you don’t have anything nice to say, shut up! Take command over your mouth and don’t let it say another thing that may tarnish God’s reputation. Finally, think on His goodness. The Bible is full of scriptures that rehearse and meditate, sing about and praise Him. Find then and get them past your head into your heart.

Psalms 103:2-4 (ESV), “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, ho heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Remind yourself that you can bring your problems to God, yes, even that mess we made ourselves. He will help. He promised He would and He always keeps His promise. It may not be when we want or even how we want, but He always comes through. He’s our Father, through the shed blood of Christ we have been given the privilege to come boldly into His throne room just as our children never have to fear coming to us for help.

Psalms 46:1 (Aramaic Bible In Plain English), “Our God is our strong house of refuge, and he is found to us our helper always in times of trouble.”

Hebrews 4:16 (NIV), “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

One of the most important things we can do when things don’t look good, is change what we are looking at. Look to Him, look at Him, look at His creation, and then praise Him for who He is, what He has done, and what He is doing in your situation right now.

Psalm 113 (NLV), “Praise the Lord! Yes, give praise, O servants of the Lord. Praise the name of the Lord!
Blessed be the name of the Lord now and forever. Everywhere—from east to west—praise the name of the Lord. For the Lord is high above the nations; his glory is higher than the heavens. Who can be compared with the Lord our God, who is enthroned on high? He stoops to look down on heaven and on earth. He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, even the princes of his own people! He gives the childless woman a family, making her a happy mother. Praise the Lord!”

God is Not Done With Israel

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Zephaniah 3:9-17 (NIV), “Then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him shoulder to shoulder. From beyond the rivers of Cush my worshipers, my scattered people, will bring me offerings. On that day you, Jerusalem, will not be put to shame for all the wrongs you have done to me, because I will remove from you your arrogant boasters. Never again will you be haughty on my holy hill. But I will leave within you the meek and humble. The remnant of Israel will trust in the name of the Lord. They will do no wrong; they will tell no lies. A deceitful tongue will not be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid.” Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Even though God’s chosen people have rebelled and turned away from Him over and over during the span of history, He has always kept a remnant, those few who loved Him and were faithful, or those who were lowly and not haughty. He did this for David’s sake. He had promised Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David many things concerning His people and He always keeps His promises. He also did this for His names sake as well. He wants the world to know that He is good, that He is forgiving, and that, no matter what, He loves. He promises to gather them back together as a shepherd gathers His flock. Over the years, many times, it may have looked like God had totally forsaken Israel, but that was never the case. The plans and the purposes that He had for them never changed. His desire for them to be His children and to call Him “Father” always remained the same. He consistently sent deliverers until finally He sent His Son as the final deliverer. They will see Jesus for who He is and they will turn their hearts to the Father. Doesn’t God promise that in His word?

Jeremiah 46:27 (KJB), “But fear not thou, O my servant Jacob, and be not dismayed, O Israel: for, behold, I will save thee from afar off, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and be in rest and at ease, and none shall make him afraid.”

Jeremiah 23:3 (NIV), “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number.”

Isaiah 25:9 (NIV), “In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

So what do we do as believers? We accept all God has for us, showing the Jews how good God is and what Jesus has done for us. We are to make them jealous enough that they seek after Him.

Romans 11:11 (NLT), “Did God’s people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient, so God made salvation available to the Gentiles. But he wanted his own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves.”

We also are supposed to be praying for them.

Psalm 122:6 (NASB), “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.”