Every moment of every person’s life is filled with purpose. Each moment has potential for greatness, regardless of how mundane it may appear. The potential is there, but how often do we miss opportunities because we fail to recognize them? Even the mundane can serve as building blocks for the larger picture. One missed opportunity leads to other missed opportunities, because often one was meant to be used as a stepping stone to propel us to the next. Similar to people connections, where one person leads us to another person who affects our destiny. It’s called positioning. Each day has preparation for the next; however, when someone does not seize the day, what could be, never comes to pass. In essence, what we do or fail to do in the moment, affects our future, one way or the other. If you lived life for a length of time, you can look at your history and see what or who brought you to where you are today. What decisions and choices you made influenced where you are right now.
Obviously, our goal as disciples of Jesus Christ is to be led by Holy Spirit, and have every step we take ordered by the Lord. If we fail to submit to Him, we actually fail to seize the moment. On the other hand, by denying ourselves, picking up our cross and following Jesus, we will take hold of it! (see Matthew 16:24)
It would be easy to beat ourselves up for wasting time and losing opportunities. However, our Lord is redemptive, and He is able to redeem the time and put us on the right track should we veer off course. The question is: do we want it redeemed? God has purposes for you, but He won’t drag you into them. He desires willing participants who will labor with Him. Whether or not we made the best use of the time afforded to us is not the necessarily the question of the day; rather, what are we going to do with whatever time we have left on earth? Look in the mirror and ask the person looking back at you, “What are you doing with what God has given you?”
Ephesians 5:16-17Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
How often have we found ourselves asking God for peace? What if we were asking for something we already have, and it’s more of a question of what are we doing with it? Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). Perhaps, part of any lack of peace is trying to reason things out by natural understanding. We rely on circumstances to dictate whether or not we have peace. Scripture goes onto say, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15). This is a permissive statement. Whose peace is it? God’s! We can either let His peace rule, or we can let fear rule. It’s our choice.
Galatians 5:22-23But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Part of the fruit of the Spirit is peace. Where does Holy Spirit dwell? In you. If He resides in you, so does His peace. In order for that peace rule in our hearts the way the Lord intended, we all must submit to Holy Spirit in all things.
Part of obedience is trust –no matter what! In some ways, we have to grant ourselves permission to walk in peace. It seems as if some adhere to some manmade law pertaining to peace. When everything is hunky-dory, peace rules; however, when circumstances don’t look so good, perhaps abysmal and everything in between, not so much. They have learned to worry during those times. “It’s not normal to have peace in tough times. It just wouldn’t be right!”
Philippians 4:6-7Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Peace that surpasses understanding, doesn’t rely on circumstances; it relies on God! When we relinquish control, we enable Him to freely move in our hearts, along with those situations beyond our ability to handle. By submitting to Holy Spirit, and listening to what God has to say about whatever issue we face, we allow peace to rule in our hearts and minds. Keep in mind that peace creates space for God-given creativity and solutions. Of course, by submitting to Holy Spirit, all those things pertaining to the fruit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 will also manifest.
Philippians 4:8-9Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
One final thought pertaining to obedience. We all have the choice to obey God or the flesh. If we decide to obey the flesh, do you suppose peace will follow? How many do you know that follow the ways of the flesh have true peace? How many do you know who resist the will of God, find it? These are obviously rhetorical questions. The more you submit to His will and desires, the more peace is allowed to rule. It would be a bit ironic to rebel against God, then ask Him for peace apart from repentance. It doesn’t work very well.
Romans 8:5-6For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.
But you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15). With adoption comes the freedom to be the real you. You were designed a specific way, which includes your God-given personality. While in the world, your true personality was hidden or obstructed by sin. The real you was desperate to bust out of the snare in which you found yourself. Perhaps, you discovered yourself doing things which didn’t match the real you while thinking to yourself, this is not the real me! Fear uses rejection as part of its arsenal to hold you hostage. “If they only knew the real you, they’d run far away from you!” Even motives can be tainted. While it’s true you wanted to selflessly bless others, you may have found yourself trying to please them in order to gain their love and affection. This is known as “people-pleasing.” In short, you weren’t giving as freely as you thought. Performance for love is not true giving, and love requiring performance is not true love. Even today, there are numerous self-help books available to aid us in becoming a better version of ourselves. The question is: are those versions the best version? The best version being who God created you to be. After reading those books, how many find themselves trying to emulate the authors or the ideals they are trying to convey? Are those perceptions they write about the real them? Maybe, it would be best to seek out the Author and Finisher of our faith and let Him reveal the real you.
Romans 8:14-17For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
As stated in the previous blog (“Sabotage and Adoption”), adoption is intentional. God adopted us as sons and daughters because He already loved us. It’s the type of love that is hard for some to wrap their heads around; nonetheless, when they begin to grasp it, they find themselves in a new place of freedom. Not just freedom from sin, but freedom from dead works. Knowing that God is your Father by virtue of His love, means never having to perform for love again! Now you can do things to please Him because you love Him; not because you’re not sure about His love for you. There’s a massive difference between them. Have you ever wondered if what you did for someone would ever be “good enough?” When you do something for God out of obedience because of love, He knows it, and that pleases Him. Maybe in your mind the performance wasn’t perfect in spite of your best efforts; but, love made it perfect!
When someone leaves an inheritance for another, does that person have to earn it? Granted, in some cases there may be some conditions attached, but for the most part it’s a gift. Our spiritual inheritance is predicated on being in Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:20For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore, also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. He rewards our obedience; we earn nothing. We know that faith pleases God, but the interesting thing about faith is that it is based on love and relationship (see Hebrews 11:6 and Galatians 5:6). Romans 10:17So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Matthew 4:4But He (Jesus) answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” A life of faith requires a relationship that includes having a dialogue with God. If you are going to obey God, how will you know what you’re obeying unless He tells you? Jesus set the example in that He did what he saw Father doing, and said what He heard Him speak. Everything He did was done in obedience out of love for Abba. That love extended to us as well.
If you’re a well-loved child of God, do you really need man’s approval, or appreciation for that matter? Sure, it’s nice if someone loves and appreciates you. That’s part of having relationship with others. If your aim is pleasing God, the fear of man cannot hold you captive anymore. We know that perfect love casts out fear (see 1 John 4:18). Doing all things as onto the Lord places you in a better position to serve others well. Instead of trying to gain respect or approval, your concern is more about them experiencing the love of God through you. It is wonderful way to live: it’s a life of freedom!
Have you ever heard people say things like, “Two steps forward and one step back?” Perhaps, “If it’s not one thing, it’s another?” What about, “God must be punishing me for something I did?” God is not doing the punishing as some might believe. Sure, God does discipline those He loves, but that is so they don’t face the punishment or wrath to come (see Hebrews 12:4-11). No, it is not God; in some cases, it is actually them punishing themselves. It’s called self-sabotage. It’s a place where people sabotage relationships, finances, personal health and so on. Just as things begin to go well, something happens to set them back. They’re always waiting for the proverbial “other shoe to drop.” And that’s part of the problem: it is exactly what they expect. Generally speaking, people tend to do or say things that correspond to expectations. It’s like self-fulfilling prophecy in which they set themselves up for the fall. This process should have no part in a disciple of Jesus Christ; nonetheless, there are some believers who find themselves in this boat. Why?
For some, they may believe God loves them; but they don’t believe the love by which He loves them. His love is unlike any others, so it is difficult for them to grasp a love that isn’t based on merit. 1 John 4:16We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. Please by all means read all of chapter four, it lays a foundation for what’s ahead. Think very carefully about this verse: For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15). Think about the concept of adoption. It is very intentional. It means the parents desired the child so much, they adopted him or her as their own. We couldn’t choose our natural parents. Unfortunately, some have been raised to believe they were “an accident,” even though there is no such thing, since God knew everyone before the world even began. He loves them and has purpose for everyone. Here’s something very interesting to consider: God does give people a choice in terms of His adopting them as His children. Yet we read: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13). As Jesus put it: “You did not choose Me but I chose you” (John 15:16). Why is all this so important to know and embrace? For one, those who don’t find any value in themselves, tend to not treat themselves very well. While they would like the blessings of God; they can’t see themselves receiving them. It goes against their view of themselves. Furthermore, many take on an attitude of rejection. They expect rejection and look for it. They find it very difficult to receive love and affection. It does not compute.
As long as people expect to fail, they will do things to make themselves fail. As long as they fail to see the goodness of God, they will fail to fully receive the good things He has for them. They will maintain a constant cycle of two steps forward; one step back. This cycle does not glorify God. It is time for them to make the decision to believe Him. One of the reasons people “never have time” to read their Bible is simply they don’t make time. People have the time for what’s important. For some, it is important to hold on to their flawed belief system about God, so they will not open the Bible and read it. It contradicts that belief system. It changes the way people think when they take an honest approach to reading it. Any excuse will work. You know, “I can’t understand it, so what’s the use?” Here’s the irony, the Bible is a relational book; it is not a textbook to be studied as you would a schoolbook. It requires relationship with God to understand it. When people think differently, they speak and act differently. People make mistakes, and setbacks may come from time to time. That’s life. We’re not home yet. With God in our lives, mistakes and setbacks become building blocks and stepping stones. We learn, we heal and we move forward. However, we don’t intentionally set up ourselves for failure because we want to disprove God’s goodness and His love for us.
Romans 8:28And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.