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2:24 AM   [25 Oct 2015 | Sunday]

Where'd My Joy Go?

 The joy of the Lord is our strength (see Nehemiah 8:10). While it is part of the fruit of the Spirit, the experience of joy is greatly enhanced through obedience to the Lord. John 15:10-11 If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. 11. These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. Understand you can never earn joy, because it is something you receive through the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, people confuse obedience with works. As a result, they put themselves in religious bondage and lose sight of joy. Remember, obedience is belief with the intent to conform to the desires of God out of love. That means everything we do is centered around Him in order to please Him. When we believe God, we will believe and obey His word. This is where faith comes into the equation.

We know that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (see Romans 10:17). Hearing the voice of God gives us something to obey. In order for something to be an act of faith (obedience), hearing must be involved. Faith pleases God (see Hebrews 11:6), and it leaves the control in His hands. We cannot do those things we concoct, while calling it faith, and hope that it is well-pleasing to Him. The idea is to please Him; not ourselves. If you sense the Lord leading you in one direction, but you decide you have a better idea, don't expect joy to bubble up from your heart. Likewise, if you begin to do a lot of church work as it were, without His leading, burn out will soon follow. If one decides to disobey outright, joy will not be the experience he or she enjoys.

Agendas play a big role in experiencing joy the way God intended.

If we have an agenda that contradicts His will or ways, we will be hard pressed to find joy giving us strength to carry it out. By the way, the Lord Himself is also our strength, and if He is not in what we're doing, how do we expect to carry it out? It is not wrong to have personal desires. In fact, God places many of those desires in our heart as we delight in Him. The difficulty lies in those desires that are contrary to His nature or go against His will. He may allow you to have your way, but don't confuse that with His perfect will. Sometimes, He'll let us have it our way, and face the consequences of our decisions. Some agendas do not lead to the desired results. It's called correction or discipline. When things go awry due to stubbornness, some will blame God for their folly. “I was following God's will and look where it got me!” Just because they “asked” the Father, it does not mean He said yes, because “yes” was the only option they would accept. Basically, they made a decision to act, and insisted on God's stamp of approval. Because they talked to God, they assumed it was okay. They took the monologue approach. They asked, but they did not listen for a response. Dialogues work a whole lot better if one is to expect good communication. Listening well increases the probably that miscommunication will be avoided. Please, if you put yourself in a bad position, don't blame God. Just stop what you're doing, repent (rethink and change your mind), and ask God for forgiveness. Ask Him for wisdom and let Him lead you where He desires. Joy will follow.

If you want more about waking with joy, you can find it in The Art of Blessing

The Art Of Blessing

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2:23 AM   [18 Oct 2015 | Sunday]

Paul's Sin Nature? (Romans 7)

 Romans 7:14-18 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

There's no place in Scripture that states we have a “sin nature,” even though humanity was born into sin. At least as it pertains to the disciples of Jesus Christ. This is important to realize, because what we believe about a sin nature affects our walk. Granted, not every theological term we use is found in the Bible. The terms are meant to give a quick reference to complete concepts. For example, the word “Trinity” is no where found in the Bible; however, we find the truth of it through out its pages. Trinity expresses a part of the nature of God in a single word. That being said, it would be a very good idea to compare the terms we use to the Written Word. Those terms may or may not actually exist in the Word of God. If they do exist, we may or may not have a proper understanding of them. Be courageous, and take a line upon line, precept upon precept approach to your studies. Be open to correction if you find your belief system is off in some areas. We all have need of correction. In it all, let the Holy Spirit lead.

Romans chapter seven raises a question for many concerning the Apostle Paul. Was he referring to a personal struggle, or to something else?

Study this for yourself, but it appears the latter would be the case. In the mean time, lets do a quick look at context. We'll also examine chapter seven in relation to chapter six and eight, along with other passages of scripture. God made us a nice Scripture sandwich by placing chapter seven between six and eight.

In context, Paul was primarily focusing on the futility of following the law of Moses. Verses one through 14 clarifies this fact. Verse one sets it up: “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?” Right off the bat, he points out that the law has dominion over those who try to live by it. When he gets to our favorite tongue-twister (verses 15-20), he actually is explaining what it's like to try living under the law instead of grace. Likewise, Paul tells us that the flesh follows the law of sin (verse 25). Under the law, we find that even though we'll desire to do the right things, we would still fall short. Not only that, we'll find ourselves failing at avoiding things we don't want to do. Why? Because the flesh is incapable of following the law of God. We do not possess the capacity apart from grace.

In verse 17 Paul writes, “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” Did he really mean to say that sin was still living inside him as a believer? Again in context, no; rather, as long as he followed the law, sin lived in him However, we do find another law at work: the law of the Spirit of life.

Romans 8:1-4 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

What are some things we can take away from this law?

When we walk by faith, we walk in newness of life. We are no longer the walking dead as it were. Under grace, in God's eyes, sin no longer lives in us. Romans 6:6-7 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7. For he that is dead is freed from sin. If were baptized into Jesus' death, our old man is counted as dead, and dead people cannot sin (look Romans 6:3-4).

In this newness of life, we find another principle at work in 1 John 3:5-9, and 1 John 5:18And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin. 6. Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him. 7. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. 8. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (5:18) We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

That means we do not habitually practice sin.

The question is: how can you have a sin nature if you are dead in Chris Jesus? Romans 6:7 clearly states, “For he that is dead is freed from sin.” Furthermore, verse 14 says, “sin shall not have dominion over you.” Why? Because you are under grace. So, Romans 7:17 actually refers to Paul prior to the Cross and Resurrection.

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2:10 AM   [11 Oct 2015 | Sunday]

Overcoming Frustration (Part Two)

 A major factor in overcoming frustration is making a very simple decision to to believe that He is God and I am not! If you don't get that one right, plan on being frustrated for the rest of your life. That belief influences the way we approach life and interact with other people. If we believe we're the master of our destiny, everything we try to control will actually control us. Control issues are crafty. Just when you think you have a “handle on things,” things change. You can plan for the future; but it is not in your power to determine its outcome. That's God's department. The moment something impedes your agenda, frustration will pounce. That is what happens when you insist on having it your way. If you view people as pawns in your world, you will soon discover you are not the King. For some, it will appear as if people are plotting against you. You don't believe that? Have you ever run late and tried to hurry to your destination? If you drove, did you feel like you were ambushed by slow drivers who could care less if you were running behind? Did any of them pull out in front of you? More than likely, you were sure it was on purpose. People never seem to be in a hurry when you are.

Overcoming frustration requires being intentional with love. 1 Corinthians 13:4 Charity (Love) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself (does not brag), is not puffed up. The first thing listed about love in this verse is that it is patient and right after that, it is kind. Is it love when we are impatient with others? When we are tempted to be frustrated with others, we do not have the right to treat them unkind. Yielding to the Holy Spirit is the key to love, patience and kindness. Because we love God, we submit to Him. In this His nature may flow through us. Instead of focusing on not being impatient; focus on love, and patience will follow. God is love, and we are supposed to be like Him. If we love God, we will love people well.

If we have an agenda, we tend to filter life through it. Our view of other people can be greatly influenced by it. If we're not careful, we can become selective about whom we love. Basically, we can get trapped into using people. It is not love when we are affectionate toward others, because they agree with our agenda and respond the way we like. If we are going to be patient with people, we have to put a premium on them; not our agenda. Not everyone is going to see things the way we do. In fact, a good many will not. Individuals have different experiences and upbringing than ours. You cannot expect them to view life like you; much less, be fully on board with your agenda. You cannot assume to know what they think, and why they behave as they do. Only God knows those thing. O yea, He is God and we are not.

With love comes compassion, and with compassion comes patience. Humans act out, misbehave, and can be quite contrary. You're human, so there's a good chance you're guilty of this as well. We all are. It is true sinners sin, because that's their nature. Aside from that, people also think, react, believe, and respond differently for a number of reasons. This is where compassion comes into play. For example, Fred is an extremely angry person who never has a good thing to say. On the surface, “he's just a jerk.” Underneath, he carries deep wounds from a painful past. The anger is a symptom of something much deeper. Love sees past the cantankerous nature, and compassion seeks Fred's healing. Rejection only exacerbates the issue. If one were to allow frustration with Fred to rule the day, one would not reach out to him. Did God reach out to you because of love? You know He did. Was He patient with you, even when you behaved badly? 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 And all things are of God, Who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19. To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

Asking God for understanding and wisdom does work wonders. Knowing why things aren't going well and how to respond, goes a long way. Understanding someone else's plight can take us to a new level of patience and compassion. Knowing how to interact with him or her can be life changing. Going about doing our Father's business focuses us on the right agenda. A proper perspective leads to a proper attitude. As we have learned, not everything is as it appears.

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2:00 AM   [04 Oct 2015 | Sunday]

Overcoming Frustration (Part One)

Frustration: the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something. In psychology, it is a common emotional response to opposition. Related to anger and disappointment, it arises from the perceived resistance to the fulfillment of individual will. Causes can be internal or external. Internal frustration may arise from challenges in fulfilling personal goals and desires. Another cause may be conflict; when one has competing goals that interfere with one another; it can create mental stress or discomfort by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values (cognitive dissonance). External causes of frustration involve conditions outside the individual, such as a blocked road or a difficult task.

Defining issues actually help in overcoming them. Finding out what is really going on better equips someone to eradicate those things that interfere with the Christlike nature in us. Similar to medicine, you cannot merely treat symptoms and hope to get well. You have to find the root cause, and treat it before the symptoms go away. What would be better, medicating the pain or getting rid of the cause of the pain? Some prefer pills to surgery , because it seems to be the lesser of the two. Spiritually speaking, some keep treating symptoms and wonder why they keep returning. They refuse to do what is necessary to walk in victory. When emotions are like a runaway freight train, you need to find out what's driving them. You cannot merely try to put on the brakes and hope it slows to stop. There's still a conflict going on. You have to shut or idle down the engine if you don't want the brakes to fail. A proper functioning engine works well with the brakes to control the train. Out of control emotions are a symptom that something is wrong.

In relation to frustration and the emotions attached to it, there are some steps that can help us navigate to the place of peace. The ones given here are not necessarily in order, except the first one: start with God. By yielding to the the Holy Spirit, peace will rule in your heart. It is a part of the fruit of the Spirit, which means, it is a peace beyond our natural capacity. God's grace enables us to say yes. When His peace floods our heart, the negative emotions are pushed out. It is much easier to address the source of frustration from the position of peace. It gives us a clear mind to see things more accurately. Sometimes emotions make it difficult to yield to the Holy Spirit. The Father gave us a wonderful gift that helps us settle into His peace: thanksgiving and praise.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. We are exhorted to offer thanks in all things. That is, “in” all things; not “for” all things. Thanksgiving centers us back into contentment. Being grateful destroys the entitlement mentality that often accompanies frustration. As stated: start with God. Can we be grateful for God alone? Solely focusing on our desires, ambitions and the things of this world can choke out gratitude and contentment. Trying to focus on the things of God and of the world equally, will cause conflict. One has to win. Peace depends on which one wins. You have to decide. Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. We are not home yet. Jesus is our exceeding great Reward. Isn't He enough? Compared to Him, what does the world have to offer that could cause you to be discontent? As you offer thanks and praise for all God has done, you will find peace flooding in; however, you have to be intentional. One advantage our mind offers is that it can override the emotions. We can decide to praise God, even when we don't feel like it. Purpose in everything to bless and honor Him first, then go to the second part of step one: ask for wisdom.

James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraides not; and it shall be given him. Truly, seeing clearly requires the Fathers' perspective. Sometimes conflict and frustration can simply be the result of stepping out of His will. He may set up a roadblock because we're driving down the wrong road, especially, if there is a bridge out. Of course, conflict will come because we are in His will. Our journey in completing His will encompasses many things. Part of it includes the process of our becoming like Jesus. If you recall, in the definition of frustration, it mentions conflict between two opposing ideas, or beliefs one may hold at the same time. God often puts speed bumps in the road that causes us to slow down and examine our belief system. What we believe influences who we are and what we do. Anything contrary to His nature will surface when you hit one of those bumps. We cannot expect to fulfill His desires if we don't believe or think the way He does.

When God gives you insight, and you embrace His remedy; the conflict will go, and along with it, frustration. Opposition is an opportunity to manifest victory. By the grace of God, we can have peace instead of frustration in the time of opposition. Learning to walk in peace is a process, so don't get frustrated with yourself if you do not get it right every time. Be patient with others as well.

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