This morning I am posting what the Lord showed me yesterday. All day yesterday we had a steady, soaking rain. The rain was God’s gift in many ways: first He gifted the water necessary for the life of His creation–the plants, yards, fields, livestock, birds and fish. It was a quiet day, mostly spent inside, and a good day to reflect, which was His second gift. At the Holy Spirit’s urging, I chose to leave the noise of the world behind for the day (didn’t turn on the TV until the Astros game at 6pm). Instead I soaked up God’s Word–His Living Water–to quench my thirst and to be filled with His fullness so that His love will overflow from my heart (Eph. 3:14-19).
I really try to do that, but I often fail. There are times that the news of the world, the hate that seems to pervade in our country that divides not only the country but our churches, just gets to me. That’s the chatter from the enemy (fiery darts) that are aimed to make Christ followers succumb to worldliness. And there are too many times that my speech reacts to what others are saying, I become angry, offended, or hurt and lash out. But God’s Word says: “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (Col. 4:6)
In my quiet time I came to realize that too often in the last week I was in situations where offense was easily found. While I was able to keep my thoughts to myself for the most part, I realized that I took the bait of Satan and allowed my thoughts to find offense and put up walls instead of sharing God’s love. Through various Bible studies and in His Word, I came to realize that where I choose to focus directs my thoughts. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7 KJV). Even when I guard my tongue (Prov. 21:23), my thoughts directed my emotions and I allowed my emotions to direct my thoughts. It was a crazy week that wreaked havoc on my peace and joy. And I became a slave to my emotions.
I allowed pride to become my measuring stick (instead of the Lord’s wisdom), and measured others’ actions by my self-righteousness. I failed and sinned. Thankfully we have a Lord who patiently uses His shepherd’s hook to guide me back on the right path, and reminded me of His Word: “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.” (Col. 3:16 NLT) The Lord gives us opportunities to allow His love and wisdom to shine even in the darkest situations if we allow His wisdom, love and richness to fill our lives.
Then I came to a favorite verse, but yesterday it spoke a different message to me. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:8-9)
All of these “whatevers” point directly to Christ: He is Truth, He is Noble, He is Just and Righteous, He is free of contamination and thus Pure, He is Lovely and desirable, He is Admirable and highly esteemed, He is Excellent and honorable, and He is Praiseworthy! And as such, all that we have heard from His Word, we should put into practice, and THEN we will have peace in the Lord.
Instead of putting my thoughts on icky worldliness that may cause me to feel anxious, angry or despondent–I am to fix my eyes on Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of my faith who is at the right hand of our Father (Heb. 12:2 NASB). A definition of “fix” is to direct one’s eyes, attention, or mind steadily or unwaveringly toward, and that is how we are directed to focus on our Lord. The Lord reminded me that when I do that I am able to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5)
After meditating on His Word and repenting, I am refocused on the hope that is only found in Him, the anchor of my soul keeping me firm and secure (Heb. 6:19). And on the day we celebrated our nation’s independence, I again realized that our only hope is in Christ Jesus, and the freedom He gives us.
- My eyes are fixed upon Jesus;
- I am grateful for who He is and all that He has done for me;
- He is perfecting me as I yield to the work of the Holy Spirit;
- And one sweet day I know that I will be with Him for eternity because He has gone to prepare a place for me.
I am confident “that He who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). And I share in Paul’s prayer for myself, so many in my life, and each person reading this: “That your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.” (Phil. 1:9-11)
That is our true freedom in Christ!