Purity 278 11/30/2020
Today’s photo comes our friend’s sunrise paddling excursion with a group of friends last Friday. I love the way our friend captured their colleague paddling into the rising sun.
I chose this pic because it is Monday and I think this pic can represent all of us going into a new week and a new month as today we say goodbye to November. I also feel it can represent the spiritual journey of seeking the Lord as our walk must be taken on individually, can seem lonely at times, requires bravery, and always leads from darkness into the light of God’s truth and way for our lives.
As we draw into December, I encourage all of my friends to pick up the Bible and begin the spiritual practice of reading one chapter of John’s gospel per day. There are 21 chapters in John and if you start tomorrow, by the time you roll into the holiday you will know the Lord in a deeper way and truly have a real appreciation for why we celebrate Christmas.
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This morning’s meditation verse was:
Psalm 105:19 (NLT2)
19 Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the LORD tested Joseph’s character.
I love this verse because it speaks of our spiritual journey in Christ and reflects the biblical truth that if we delight in the Lord’s ways He will give us the desires of our heart but the thing is when we follow the Lord He changes our hearts to be aligned with His and He encourages us to walk as He does.
When we answer His call on our lives, there will be tests. Each test is an invitation into a deeper relationship with Him. He asks us to forsake our selfish and sinful ways to live a new life that He has for us. If we accept what He has for us, we will be challenged and we will be changed. What may seem like an impossible task (changing me?!), is possible with God. The more we walk with God the more our character becomes like His. Our hearts and minds change regarding all that used to enslave us, and we see the truth of how our old lives were filled with corruption, ignorance, and darkness.
I’m not sure what the Lord’s plan is for each of us, but I know that part of the fulfillment of our dreams is to be the people we always wanted to be but that we never thought we could be. The process of following Him becomes a means and an end. We move into His will for our lives by changing and our being changed is a part of His will for us.
What we leave behind isn’t worth holding on to. What is before us is better than anything in the past. Keep walking and talking with God.
Today we continue to share from Anderson & Baumchen’s Finding Hope Again, where they discuss understanding the damage done by a distorted image of God and how we are to know and love God.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work:
Distortion and Damage
While the preceding statement is a general rule, some legalistic churches and homes that know little of the grace of God can give children a very distorted concept of their heavenly Father.
Jim would be an example of that. This 35-year-old man who came for counseling stared quietly at the carpet as he gathered his thoughts. Slowly he began to unravel the twisted story of his life, as one would unravel the intertwined fibers of the carpet on which his gaze was fixed.
Jim was the firstborn son in a family of five children. His mother was a gentle woman, kind and compassionate. She loved all her children. In Jim's mind, she had only one fault. She was too weak and passive to stand up to his father.
Jim's father wasn't physically abusive, but he was critical and judgmental. He complained about Jim's behavior and found fault with his every move. When Jim played basketball, he would only hear of the missed shot, or blundered pass or lack of hustle. If Jim cleaned the garage, his father would point out the poorly aligned garden tools piled in the corner. The focus was always on Jim's shortcomings.
In spite of his fine performances on the basketball court, in his marriage and on the job, Jim always felt inadequate. He thought, I could have done better and I should have done more. Feeling like a failure, he longed for attention and the approval of others, but there was never enough to overcome the message he heard again and again as he was growing up. When praise came, Jim had trouble receiving it because he really didn't believe it. His perfect heavenly Father was too much like his perfectionist earthly father. God was a distant Judge who disapproved of Jim because he wasn't perfect. Jim didn't like himself, and he battled periodically with depression.
Jim's concept of God and himself was distorted because of his external circumstances. Just telling people like Jim the truth about God and who they are in Christ is often not enough. Kindly spoken words of truth by a godly pastor or a Christ-centered counselor may not by themselves overcome years of programming by the world. The nature of God will never change, but such people's perception of Him has been changed by being filtered through the grid of living in a fallen world.
Note the following diagram. We have seen good students of the Bible point to the left side of the diagram when asked which side reveals the true nature of God. But when asked how they feel about God in their personal experience, they point to the right side! Somehow, during their experience of growing up they entertained thoughts about God that were not true.
Remember: If what you believe does not conform to truth, then what you feel does not conform to reality. Consequently, there are people sitting in every church in America who intellectually know that God loves them, but they don't feel loved, and they don't feel saved. It would be safe to say that everyone has conjured some thoughts against the knowledge of God. But we have divinely powerful spiritual weapons to tear down those strongholds (see 2 Cor. 10:3-5).
Loving and Knowing God
Matthew records the time an unnamed Pharisee asked Jesus the question, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" (Matthew 22:36). Today we are more inclined to ask, "God, what is the secret for living a successful and victorious life?" But for either question, Christ's answer would be the same today as it was then:
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40).
The whole purpose for having the Bible is to govern our relationship with God and humankind. We are commanded to love God more for our sake than His. He doesn't need our love, but we need to love Him.
The commandment to love God is not a commandment to feel good about Him. How we feel is the product of what we choose to believe. However, a joyful countenance would certainly follow if we really knew Him because to know God is to love Him.
We need to know that God is love, and that He is beautiful beyond comprehension.
We also need to know that God is omnipresent. No matter where we go, God is there.
We need to know that He is omniscient. He knows the thoughts and intentions of our hearts.
We need to know that God is omnipotent. Consequently, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (see Phil. 4:13).
God is faithful and true. God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. He is holy and just.
Finding Hope Again: Overcoming Depression.
------------------------------more on tomorrow--------------------------
God bless you all!