Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Love.....REAL LOVE

Well, this morning once again as I sat down and opened God's Word, I was surprised by what I read. I was reading in Philippians 1 where Paul is telling the Philipian believers of his love for them with words such as, "I have you in my heart..." (v.7) and "I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus..." (v.8) (Paul obviously felt very strongly about these believers!) and then he tells them that he is praying for them and here's where I was surprised. He starts by saying, "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more...", that got my attention because he mentioned love and I thought "Aha! Here's something I need to really take notice of! " He continues, "...in real knowledge and all discernment..." What? That doesn't sound like the love I'm familiar with. Something is wrong with the way I'm thinking about love. I would expect something more like "...in real tenderness and all affection..." There's some serious correcting needed in my understanding of love. He goes on to give the reason that he prays this, "...so that you may approve the things that are excellent in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;" Look at what real love produces! Discernment for the purpose of obedience! He finishes with these words, "...having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." WOW! Filled with righteousness from Christ for the purpose of glorifying and praising God! Look at what real love does! This is so far beyond the weak, pitiful, needy, emotional picture of love in my mind. I know that there are aspects to godly affection that are very emotional and full of affection and I don't want to neglect them, but this description of love is so much more than just a feeling.
I want to meditate on this and give the Lord time to plant it in my heart before I comment more. I think I'm picking up on love being somewhat akin to wisdom in this passage. Doesn't it sound like wisdom? I can't wait to get comments on this that might shed more light on it. I know there is so much that can be said and I don't feel that I've given enough study to this passage to say anything else for now, but I want to learn about this kind of love and I want to pray as Paul did that my love and yours...
... "may abound still more and more in all knowledge and discernment, so that [we] may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." Phil. 1:9-11

Wise comments from wise women

Here are a couple of comments I received about my recent posts from two of the most wise and influential women in my life. I think what they had to say gives balance to some of my comments and I thought it would be helpful to post them.

"You know, Julie, only you and the Lord truly know the struggles in your heart, and if you are identifying yesterdays chaos in your house as a result of your own slothfulness, then I can't question that.  However. . .on the other side, I believe weekends are difficult to manage-this part of the week requires a different kind of diligence and also some grace, if you know what I mean?  It always seemed that Mondays were our "ordering days" at home; I tried hard not to plan anything or go out on Mondays--blessings of Sundays can cause an upheavel in our our homemaking routine." Darcie N.

" I am so glad that He chooses the weak and foolish and I am so glad that His strength is made perfect in weakness....that's where his glory shines girl...so your lazy...He desires to put His power on display there!!! " Amy W.

Amy sent this clarifying statement about what she said above, "Well, as I read my advice to you, I should have put..as you obey...I don't want it to sound like a let go and let God thing...As you obey...He changes you into something that you are not naturally...He does something that you in and of yourself cannot do....then when people look at your handiwork, the glory goes to Him and not to you! " 

Monday, May 18, 2009


Warning: This post may be potentially confusing. Proceed with caution!

Just wanted to give that disclaimer because I have several thoughts that are chasing each other in my mind and I don't know if I can put them into writing in a coherent manner, but I wanted to share them just the same.

First, I've been losing ground in this fight against laziness. I've seen it coming for the last week or so like being chased by dogs in the distance and realizing little by little that they are gaining on you! A little laziness here and a little indulgence there and all of a sudden...BOOM... you're life is falling apart around you! Hmmm...that sound like something I've read before "A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, Your poverty will come in like a vagabond, and your need like an armed man." Proverbs 6:11 Well, right now I have a vagabond and an armed man standing in my house! I contemplated posting a picture of the destruction that is around me, but I'll spare you the pain. Destruction: that leads me to my next thought. (I warned you this could be confusing!) I read this morning in Proverbs 18 a verse that is beginning to brand itself into my mind. At times it brings stinging conviction, at times I read it and feel despair. This morning it was little of both. So here it is..."He also who is slack in his work is a brother to him to DESTROYS." Pro. 18:9 Oh how true this is! Have you ever heard the proverbial southern saying (most likely from your mother) "This house looks like it was hit by a tornado!"Now we all know that there was no actual severe weather that caused destruction, but rather as the proverb says, someone was "slack in his work". But in the end the result is the same:DESTRUCTION! This morning, my house looks like it's waiting for the governor to arrive and declare it a disaster zone! So I read this and felt it's bite and knew that I was the slack man akin to the destroyer. And then I read on. Verse 19 of Proverbs says, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe." Now I know that the Proverbs are little snippets of truth usually placed randomly and that verse 8 does not flow into verse 9 as in other parts of Scripture, but this morning my heart NEEDED to hear v 9 after the pain of v 8! All along, my intention in writing this blog has been to give an account of my battle with laziness, but sometimes I begin to see it as only MY battle. I forget that in all my working and striving I accomplish nothing without my HELPER, my LORD who has ALREADY accomplished ALL that I need by His perfect life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection!!!!! This thought had been stirring in my mind ever since our Pastor's sermon yesterday morning. He was beginning his series on I Corinthians and giving an overview of all the problems in the Corinthian church and then he read I Cor. 1:18 "For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is  the POWER OF GOD." He went on to say that the answer to all the problems in the Corinthian church was THE CROSS, the answer to all the problems, issues, sins in our lives is THE CROSS.  Lydia even asked me after church what he meant by that and I told her that I think he meant that the Cross took care of our greatest and only eternal problem:SIN, but I've been thinking about the real significance of the CROSS in my life. The truth that the Cross of Christ answers all our problems is so familiar that I can overlook it and want to move on to something else, but as our pastor also said,"We never graduate from the Gospel" I want to contemplate Christ and His Cross and the refuge and safety that it is for me, protecting me from God's just, furious wrath for my sin and bringing me into His Presence with favor and grace!

 When I sin against HIM (Pro. 18:8 for example) I run to HIM for safety! AMAZING!

 We offend HIM yet HE is the One who helps us and protects us from HIMSELF! In our battling against sin HE is our place of safety. I don't know what "name" of the Lord Pro. 18:9 refers to, but I know that the name of Jesus literally means "SAVIOR" and in that name I will be safe! 
    So here comes another turn in the road of my thoughts, I also read Psalm 46 by the Providence and Grace of God! It begins, "God is our REFUGE and STRENGTH, a very present HELP in trouble (lit. tight places!) " and verse 7 and 11 repeat "The Lord of hosts is WITH US; the God of Jacob is our STRONGHOLD." Do you see a pattern beginning to emerge? And before I read that my husband was reading "Spiritual Growth" by A.W. Pink (an excellent book HIGHLY recommended!!!!) and he mentioned Heb. 4:16 so I looked it up and it begins with a therefore so I had to find out "what the therefore was there for". I went back to verse 14 and begin reading, "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, JESUS THE SON OF GOD, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. THEREFORE (because of who JESUS is and what HE's done) let us draw near with CONFIDENCE to the throne of grace, so that we may receive MERCY and find GRACE to HELP IN TIME OF NEED!" Our Lord is SO faithful to teach us and remind us that what we really need is HIMSELF! I don't just need to be diligent. I don't just need to fight laziness and learn to be a keeper at home, I need HIM FIRST! And then, in HIM I will have all I need to live as HE commands. 

SO, when the tornado is coming threatening to bring destruction (the tornado being my own sin) I can run to my SHELTER and be protected and refreshed to continue to fight for holiness in HIS STRENGTH! He is gracious to show us that in all our obedience the truth HE wants us to find is that WE NEED HIM!

Righteous, (amazing that we are called that!), run to the strong tower that is the name of our LORD, "JESUS THE SON OF GOD" (Heb. 4:14) and be SAFE!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Screaming Children! AHHHHHHHHH

Well, the last two weeks have been fun! I've been cleaning out, and throwing out, and organizing. I've been enjoying the fruit of my labor as I walk through my house and drink in the tidiness around me. I've been thankful to the Lord for the clear and creative mind He has given me to do what He has called me to do. (I'm not claiming that my mind is clear and creative, I'm speaking of the uncanny way that God clears our minds and helps us as we desire to obey Him. It's truly amazing!) I've been enjoying the ease of my life that is produced by diligence. (I'm planning a future post about that) But this weekend something changed. I began to slide back into my old attitude of laziness. All the excitement of keeping the house organized was beginning to fade, and something else had begun to invade my heart.... 
We women tend to deal with these way too often don't we? I just didn't FEEL good. I was unhappy (discontent) about certain circumstances and hurt by the words and actions of others. I was just pitiful, and I knew it was wrong, but I couldn't put my finger on the solution. When I woke up this morning I was greeted by things left undone over the weekend and I sunk even deeper into my despair! I realized that a lot of my trouble with housekeeping and life in general was that I did fine when I felt like doing it, but as soon as the tide of my emotions changed I wanted to quit. I was moping around and hoping for some relief. I hadn't picked up my Bible all weekend (DING DING DING ALARM SHOULD BE GOING OFF!) so I sat down somewhat reluctantly to read God's Word. I've been reading the Proverb that corresponds to the day of the month so today was Proverbs 4 and as I read I came to this very familiar verse, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life." v 23. When I read that it was as if someone had sprayed Windex on my heart and was wiping away the crud that had collected there. I read it again and a word popped out at me, "Keep your heart with all DILIGENCE"! Diligence? Isn't that what I've been wanting to learn? Isn't that the theme of this blog along with it's evil opposite laziness? But this diligence was not about work it was about my HEART! I read the second half of the verse again, "...for out of it (the heart) spring the issues of life." All these things that I've been so concerned about and wanting to change, my behaviour, my habits, they flow out of the heart and diligence begins there! How stupid of me! Of course I know that the heart is what matters. I know that God cares about my motives as well as my actions, but once again God's Word had been powerfully effective at convicting and diagnosing the real problem! I am thankful beyond words for the Bible! I think this is something of what the Psalmist meant when he wrote "Your rod and your staff they comfort me" Ps. 23:4 The note on this in the MacArthur study Bible says, 
      "The shepherd's club and crook are viewed as comforting instruments of protection and direction, respectively."
Isn't it odd that God's often painful correction is a comfort to us who love Him!? It means we are HIS sheep! OK back to the verse in Proverbs. 
     I knew I needed further study on this so I did a search for the verse and Phil Johnson's sermon called "Wisdom Guards the Heart" popped up. I sat and listened attentively and quickly became enraptured by the truth he was teaching about. I commend the sermon to you and will post a link at the end of this post. There were a couple of  illustrations that he mentioned that I wanted to share. The first was regarding the second half of the verse where it speaks of the spring (or issues) of life flowing out of the heart. He said that there is a reservoir near his church in the San Fernando Valley that feeds most of the LA water supply. Since 9/11 and the heightened threat of terrorism that followed there have been huge measures taken to guard that reservoir, because if it could be poisoned, much of the population of LA would subsequently be poisoned! His point was that is what it's like with our heart. If the heart, the spring that our life flows from is poisoned by sin, then all of our life will be as well! That's why it is so necessary to GUARD or KEEP it with ALL DILIGENCE! He made the crucial point also that unless our heart is a new heart, a result of Christ making us new creations, then this verse means nothing to us. Turning from sin and subsequently following Christ as our Lord is an absolute necessity! That brings up another interesting point; this verse is speaking to those of us who have new hearts! We are not yet free of the poison of sin and our hearts are still "prone to wander" so the call is to guard them diligently.
    The other illustration he spoke of is relating to emotions. He said that guarding our hearts involves controlling our emotions, not being controlled by them! The analogy that he gave was that emotions are like screaming children (oh can I ever relate to this!). You have to quiet them down before they will listen to you. As women, how often are we controlled by our emotions? How often do they scream at us what we should do, say, or think? We listen to them obediently like a parent being obedient to a child! How absurd! We should be sitting them down and disciplining them! So the next time that I am tempted to obey my emotions, I'll think of that picture of a parent pitifully yielding to the will of an obstinate and disrespectful child! Please don't misunderstand, emotions can be wonderful and are truly a gift of God. We can feel the pleasure and passion that comes with being His child because of these wonderful gifts, but as Phil Johnson said, they are to be subject to us rather than us being subject to them, and truly our emotions and all of our hearts should be subject to our Lord and His Word!

SO.......Diligence and everything else starts in the heart! What an amazing thing to learn, and what a Precious Saviour we have who has "given us ALL THINGS that pertain to life and godliness through the KNOWLEDGE OF HIM who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these YOU maybe PARTAKERS of the divine nature, having escaped the corruptions that is in the world through lust."(isn't lust at the root of most sinful emotions?) II Peter 1:2-4 (Read on! It talks about diligence!) He has given us all things, namely His Word that directs us accurately at every turn to follow Him! 

www.thegracelifepulpit.com/philsermon.htm   Look for the sermon from  July 4, 2004 (2004-07-04pm-PJ) called "Wisdom Guards the Heart" Please listen! It is SOOOO good!