What Compels You?

Paul said that the love of Christ compelled him. 2 Corinthians 5:14 says, “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died.” The word compel means to hold together or to grip tightly.  Note in my Bible: …there is the sense of constraint, a tight grip that prevents all escape. The love of Christ leaves us no choice except to live our lives for Him.

Yesterday I was proof reading Victorious Heart. It said, “God’s living and powerful word hidden in our heart will pull down the strongholds the enemy set up.  Are you floundering or flourishing in your faith?  Are you allowing God’s word to wash away the debris buried in your unconscious, or are you resisting His promptings?  Are you meditating on God’s word day and night, or are you rehearsing the wrongs done against you?  Your answers to the above questions reveal your true heart.”

This morning I wrote some verses in my journal. Romans 5:17 says, “…those who receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” Verse 21 says, “…grace might reign through righteousness.”

What does reign mean? To triumph! Romans 6:12 says, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.” Reigning over all my sin-thoughts controls how I live, and continuously compels me to obey His word.

We cannot conquer our flesh without the Holy Spirit’s empowerment. Any self-effort comes from our flesh which profits nothing. John 6:63 says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”

His righteousness will have ruling power in our lives as we submit to His way. Walking in His righteousness (conformity to His will in our thoughts, purpose, and actions) will cause us to triumph over every temptation to sin!

Here is a great analogy. Joshua 10:16-27 is the recorded defeat of five enemy kings. I love verse 24. It is a great picture of how we conquer our temptations. It says, “…Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings…” Verse 25 says, “…Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.” We wrestle down and subdue our temptations to sin, triumphing over them through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Heart’s Picture Gallery

I’ve been proofing my paperback called “Victorious Heart.” Last night I read the section about the hallway full of pictures. What pictures do you have hanging in the hallway of your heart?

Are they old, faded, covered with dust and cobwebs? Are they images from your past that constantly remind you of sins done against you, sins you committed, or circumstances that caused emotional pain?

Are there scenes that you rehearse in your mind? Scenes of trauma, people who hurt you, rejections, angry outbursts, or abuse. Do you have pictures of fantasies in order to escape your present?

I had wrong pictures on the wall of my heart. I asked the Lord to take them down for me. They were in my unconscious. I could not access them but He could. It is a though He graciously took them down and poured His shed blood over them. He reminded me that He already paid the price for my sins and the sins done against me.

Then He began to redecorate my wall. First He brought in His light. The whole hallway was transformed from dark to light. He took down the death words, and hung signs of redemption in their place; words of life from His word. Here is one you will recognize

Old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new

Think about this verse. Isaiah 64:6 says that our righteousness is as filthy rags. Yet, at salvation He clothed us with His robe of righteousness! As He continues to redecorate the walls of your heart, you will begin to see yourself as He sees you. Your thoughts will begin to line up with His word.

Perhaps you felt shame as you walked down the hallway of your heart. He took that old picture down and gave you a true picture. Psalm  34:5 says, “They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed.”

I encourage you to ask the Lord to redecorate the hallway in your heart. He delights in setting us free from the painful images of our past. He wants us to walk in the newness of life that He purchased for us through His death on the cross. It is having our mind renewed through His powerful word’s of life and hope. Ephesians 4:23 Amplified says, “And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind (having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude).”

 

 

 

 

 

Defining Our Past

Jesus’ finished work on the cross defines our past as passed. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.”

Our past does not define us. It doesn’t matter how we were raised, what has happened to us, how we were sinned against, nor what sins we ourselves have done. Not anything from our past defines us. We find our true identity IN Christ, through His death, burial, and resurrection. When we live in who we are in Him, and what He has done for us, we enter into the fulness He bought for us.

Ephesians 1:7 says, “IN Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” 1 Corinthians 1:30 says, “But of Him you are IN Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God–and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”

This morning I wrote Romans 4:24-25 in my journal. It is the ‘therefore’ of Romans 5:1-2. “But also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and raised because of our justification.”

Going on in Romans 5:1-2 it says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand…”

Our standing is our true identity. We are pure, holy, righteous: because He forgave us our sins. How do you see yourself? Do you look through the eyes of your past, or from the truth of God’s word?

Psalm 12:6 says, “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” Therefore, as we memorize God’s pure word, we internalize His truths. Our thoughts and actions will rise up to agree with our standing.

The more His word is worked into our hearts, the lies we have believed from our past will be exposed. Past lies bind and hinder our walk with the Lord. He set us free (standing) to walk in truth that will keep us free. It is experiential truth: truth that we have laid hold of in our hearts that change our state of mind.

We are pure and undefiled in our standing. We have to over write our old way of thinking. It is called “renewing our mind” and truly see ourselves in our standing in Christ. Memorizing and meditating on His word intentionally aligns our thoughts and feelings with truth. Psalm 15:2 is the result. It says, “He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart.”

Our heart is our belief center. When what we believe lines up with God’s word, we will cling to Him and trust Him with our whole being: mind, will, emotions. Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

If you see yourself though the eyes of your past, you are deceived and controlled by the lies you believe. We are declared righteous. We stand in His righteousness–not our own. Titus 3:5 says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…”

Anything “Self” Is Flesh

Here is another contrast. John 15:5 says that apart from Him we can do nothing. Anything we do independent of Him therefore is flesh. In other words, it is done in our own strength. It is futile, empty, worthless, and does not glorify the Lord.

How do we break this cycle of automatic pilot “self” anything? It is simple and not a complex answer. It has to do with what or Who we are yielding to. When we yield to our flesh, the fruit will be: self-conceit, self-preservation, self-hatred, self-rejection, self-pity, self-gratification, selfish ambition, etc.

However when we yield to the Holy Spirit, the fruit will be: love, joy, peace, longsuffering,  kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. We only bear the fruit. He is the Producer as we submit to His leading. John 15:8 says, “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

Let’s go back to Romans 1:16. It says that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. Verse 17 says, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith…”  2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Titus 3:5 says that salvation is not by our own righteousness.

As a child-believer I understood that God gave me His righteousness. I also understood that my righteousness was as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). What I didn’t know then was that He would use adverse circumstances in my life to conform my thoughts and actions to His revealed will. I missed that first part of Romans 1:17 until much later in my adult life.

Romans 1:18 says that the unbeliever suppresses the truth through their unrighteousness. Anything “self” is UN-righteousness and certainly IN-dependent of the Lord. He isn’t brought into the thought, decision, or action, but definitely excluded. Therefore, even a believer can suppress the life-changing truth of God’s word by ignoring what He says. That is walking in self-deception, or plowing through with our own strength. SELF–FLESH.

We are saved by the gospel and we live by the gospel. It is a walk into faith and a continual walk of faith. An authentic follower of Christ loves the truth and seeks to renew their mind through the truth.

Breaking the cycle requires acknowledging the Lord throughout our day, at every decision, and action. We  bring Him into our central focus. We lift Him up in our situation by asking for help. We recognize afresh how dependent we are. He holds every breath in His hands. Think of it this way: every breath we take we are breathing in His Presence.

Contrasts

Romans 8 is a great chapter of contrasts. It magnifies the difference between walking in the flesh and walking in the Spirit. Verse 8 Amplified says, “But then those who are living the life of the flesh (catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature) cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him.”

Verse 9 NKJV says, “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you…” When believers walk in the flesh, we are living a lie. We have been bought with the tremendous price of Jesus’ shed blood. We have been set free to walk as Jesus walked.

The key is who we allow to control our thoughts and actions. Galatians 5:16 says, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Verse 17 goes on to say that our flesh opposes the Spirit, and the Spirit opposes our flesh.

The Holy Spirit’s role is to lead us into truth that will set us free. The enemy of our soul wants to take us back as his captive. Therefore we persevere as we intentionally remember what Jesus did for us. Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.”

Something dead has no response. Now we have been made alive, and therefore able to response to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. The end of Romans 8:9 says, “…Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us at salvation.

Romans 8:14 says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” As sons, we have a loving Father that disciplines or trains us through our trials and adversities. Hebrews 12:11 says, “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

The Holy Spirit leads us into truth that will set us free. He course corrects us as we read the word and observe to do it. We can make practical application to our lives at the moment we are reading. In my own experience, when the Holy Spirit highlights a verse that I am reading, I stop and take note. I write it in my journal and ask Him questions. As He leads me to confirming verses, He is right then directing my thoughts and actions to conform to His revealed will through that verse.

Today I encourage you to remember what the Lord has done for you through Romans 8:37. Referring to verse 35, it says, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” His love empowers us to follow the Holy Spirit into truth, rather than the lies of the enemy set to trap us and bring us down. May you grow in your sensitivity to following the Holy Spirit.

Free Ebook

He Drew Me Out Of Deep Waters: encouragement for hard trials is FREE Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week on Amazon. I’m still working on the pagination for the paperback.

 

cover3

Stepping Into The Impossible

The children of Israel were facing an impossible situation. They needed to cross the Jordan River in order to walk into God’s promise. Joshua 3:3 says, “…When you see the ark…then you shall set out from your place and go after it.” The ark represented the presence of the Lord.

Before, He led them by the cloud and the pillar. Now He was about to lead them in a totally different way. However, their way was blocked because the Jordan was overflowing its banks. Verse 4 says, “…that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.”

Are you about to walk in uncharted territory? I am. I’m sharing my journal with you from my quiet time this morning. The priests were instructed to step into the impossibility. Joshua 3:13 says, “…as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests…rest in the waters…the waters of the Jordan will be cut off…” They had to obediently step in. Then the Lord transformed the impossible to take them through.

Here is another situation. Jeremiah had obeyed the Lord by buying a piece of land, even though Jerusalem was under siege. Then Jeremiah asked for understanding. Jeremiah 32:17-25 is his prayer. First he recounted who the Lord is. Verse 17 says, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.” Verse 19 says, “You are great in counsel and mighty in work…”

Jeremiah faced an impossible situation, yet he first aligned his thoughts with who God is. God answered him in verse 27. It says, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”

We do well to remember this as we face our own impossibilities. Like the two above cases, our impossible (to us) circumstance is an opportunity for God to show Himself strong on our behalf. He wants us to focus on Him and His ability, not the obstacles to His promises.

Psalm 25:4-5 is a great prayer for us. Verse 4 says, “Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.” Psalm 85:13 says, “Righteousness will go before Him, and make His footsteps our pathway.” Righteousness is conforming our thoughts, purpose, and actions with His will.

First we need to align our thoughts with His will. Our impossible-obstacle is the very thing He wants to transform. It will become the prepared pathway we walk on, and into, for His provision and promise in our present situation.

I prayed this to align my thoughts with His will: Thank You Lord for this impossible situation. I’m totally and absolutely dependent on You. You are Ever Present. You are my Guide to take me through.

You can use your own words, but His will is to be thankful. As we thank Him for who He is, it puts our lives back into right perspective. He is Lord over all. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”