Light Shines in the Darkness - I Will Trust in Him - Purity 517
Purity 517 09/07/2021 Purity 517 Podcast
Today’s photo of shooting star over Grant Island, near Brantingham NY comes to us from SK Photography and Design. Our friend just happened to be “taking a night shot” when they serendipitously captured this soaring beauty in the sky and its reflection in the waters of Brantingham Lake below. I also just love how the lights on the lake light up the scene below and how the other stars that are not racing across the universe light up the sky above. And check out that swimming float on the right and the reflections on the lake that just invite us to take a nighttime dip!
I don’t often share evening photos but this one makes me think of that Neil Diamond song that says, “I thank the Lord for the night time.” because the beauty of His creation only needs a little light to reveal it. Similarly, we just need a little bit of God’s light to help us to walk through even the darkest times in our lives.
That Neil Diamond song confesses that the singer is thanking God for the nighttime in part because of the difficulties of the “up-uptight time” of the day. Labor Day is over and as most of us return to work today some of us will be challenged by the increase in activity that occurs after a three day weekend and others may have to deal with new routines as “things change now” for whatever seasonal or arbitrary reasons that may apply. I will be experiencing a change of job duties going forward as of today and have a strange mix of excitement and dread. Anxiety is a common response to the unknown that most of us experience when things change.
Thankfully, this isn’t my first rodeo and I have some experience at riding the bucking bronco of changing circumstances at work. I have learned that the best tactic for coming to a new situation is to completely surrender to the change and to go into it with an agreeable, open, and humble attitude. “I’m here to serve and to do the best I can” is our mantra. Repeat: “I’m here to serve and to do the best I can” Not: “I hate my life!”
I used that second one as a veritable anthem through many transitional periods in my life and I discovered that, while my negative emotional state thought it was an appropriate summation of my experience, it just wasn’t true. I don’t hate my life. And I don’t hate my job either. Like most of us, I just am not a big fan of change.
But luckily my years of trial and error of stumbling through life and running into walls has taught me to meet new challenges by embracing the truth. The big Truth is that Jesus is the way, the truth, in the life of course. And its by that foundational truth that I can walk through life a whole lot more skillfully than I have in the past.
The changing circumstances of life can dish out a heaping helping of suffering with all kinds of things that can go wrong, up to and including a sudden death. But when you make Christ your Lord and Savior, all the possible troubles and tribulations that we can suffer are put in their proper perspective.
Take the work example for instance, one of the worst case scenarios is to make some mistake and get fired, right? Well, when you have faith you know that the Lord will provide if that happens. But if we really are following the Lord that is not too likely because we will be actively seeking to do what’s right and to perform to the best of our abilities on a daily basis, right?
So I will play the part of a humble servant because that’s the role God would want me to play. And the funny thing is that when you do that, with a heart to please God and to give Him glory, things usually work out. But again, if they don’t, I will have the assurance of knowing that I was honest and obedient and tried to do everything His way.
You see our faith in Christ isn’t just for eternity. Our relationship with God gives us the meaning and purpose we are to live by, right now. So no matter what comes my way, I try to align my thoughts, words, and actions to reflect that I am secure and accepted by my heavenly Father, who just happens to be the Highest Power above and beyond the universe itself.
Beyond work, the bad things that happen in life like sickness, loss, and death, we should likewise process according to our relationship with God. Easier said than done, I know, if you don’t have a daily spiritual practice of communicating with Him, but that’s why you develop one. “Praying without ceasing” is just walking and talking with God on a continual basis, and as I said above, it doesn’t take too much of His light to strengthen us and show us the beauty in the darkness.
So as we drive into a new day, think about inviting God along for the ride. He’s omnipresent. That means He’s available and His presence, strength, and wisdom can help us navigate through all the turns and bumps in the road on our journey of life.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
2 Timothy 2:25 (NKJV)
25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,
Today’s verse provides instruction on how to we are to handle opposition and reveals the divine source that fuels the transformed Christian life.
We recently reviewed 2 Timothy 2:26 which highlighted the fact that those who are outside of the Christian faith, or those who oppose it, are captives doing the will of the devil and need to come to their “senses”. In presenting that portion of scripture we had to present the context that preceded it and we mentioned that our stance for dealing with opposition was to attempt to correct others with humility.
Obviously that context, is shown here in verse 25. If we think about why we would try to be humble when trying to correct someone, we can see that there are good practical reasons.
Proverbs 15:1 (NKJV)
1 A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
So you see here, the word of God is consistent. If we are trying to correct someone we don’t want to stir up anger because angry people tend to be defensive and don’t want to consider a view that is different from their own. So we should use a “soft answer” and a gentle demeanor that speaks the truth in love when we try to share the gospel or the Biblical principles for how to live. That proverb is also good advice to use if someone should bring accusations or criticism to our doorstep.
So the principle to have a humble attitude can serve us well as we walk in the world to “win friends and influence people”, but I want to point out that when it comes to the gospel or calling the wayward towards repentance that we don’t just win a debate or convince someone to “do the right thing”.
Someone putting their faith in Christ or turning from their sins requires the Holy Spirit to move in the person’s life. God could use us for that purpose through our words and actions, but we must never forget that while the gospel and living a Christian life “just makes sense” to us, seeing the truth and accepting them is something that must be spiritually discerned. The Holy Spirit is the one brings revelation and opens the eyes of the spiritually blind. This fact should make acting in humility a little easier.
Unfortunately, we can’t debate or argue someone into God’s kingdom. Christ’s first commandment is to love God and we can’t convince or force anyone to do that. That’s why we need to act and speak in a way so we can have some assurance that at least those in opposition to us hear what we are saying and understand where we are coming from because if they have an “ear to hear” the Lord just may just take the opportunity to bring salvation or to “grant repentance”.
For the believer, who is mired sins of their pre-Christ worldly ways, this spiritual reality really comes to bear. Why do some Christians struggle with sin continually while others seem to have a “moment of clarity” where they can walk away from their sin for good or who come to a point in their faith walk where their besetting sin falls away and its temptation loses its pull? It is because the Lord grants repentance.
So if you didn’t get that “instant repentance” it doesn’t mean that your case is hopeless. God can still grant repentance to you if you chose to surrender to His will and ways for your life. If you humble yourself and choose to follow the Lord and mature in your faith by putting His word in your mind and heart, you will be equipped to resist the devil, renew your mind, and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. This method of walking with God to receive His repentance takes practice and patience.
It involves discipline and intentionally, and repeatedly, redirecting our thoughts and actions to be in line with God’s ways but it is not just the Christian form of karate where you do all the work by the sweat of your brow.
Part of our daily spiritual practice needs to include prayer where you communicate to God your gratitude and your requests for His strength, wisdom, and love. When we walk in the Spirit with a heart set on changing our ways for His and drawing closer to Him, we will come to a crossroads in our journey where we leave our besetting sin behind and realize that God, like a midnight surgeon, has “cut that out” of us.
Somewhere along our walk with the Lord, He will granted us repentance in that area and instead of being preoccupied with that fight, we can confidently claim our victory and turn to other areas in our lives to surrender to Him.
So pray for those who oppose you and use a humble spirit when you try to correct them, realizing that it is only the Lord that will grant them repentance.
And as you walk in the Lord’s direction try open your eyes, heart and mind to examine your experience and speak humbly to yourself to see what the Lord can help you to repent of.
A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: what do I have in my life that I have accepted as something that is “impossible to change” or that is something I “just don’t want to do (or can’t) do”? The places that “we don’t want to go to” or where we resist may be the areas that God alone can change, and He may be calling us to trust Him to do the impossible in our lives.
So keep walking and talking with God, we’ve got places to go and people to see. And if we listen to the Lord’s call, he might just use us to bring a victory.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we share from June Hunt’s Boundaries: How to Set Them, How to Keep Them.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $5.00:
C. What Are Different Kinds of Personal Boundaries?
Lance Armstrong violates all kinds of personal boundaries when it comes to his association with Greg LeMond.
Among cyclists, Lance develops a reputation as a bully, and before his fall, people fear to cross him. At one point Greg says that Lance calls him and threatens to find ten people who will swear that he has doped. People associated with cycling even call Greg to intimidate him to not interfere with Lance.
Greg's wife, Kathy, says the darkest, most desperate attempt by Lance to shut up her husband was his offer of $300,000 to one of Greg's former teammates to vow he had seen Greg using drugs. The offer is declined, but Lance's bullying reputation is affirmed. "He crosses lines no others will cross," Kathy observes and experiences firsthand.
An Old Testament passage also provides an apt description that could apply to Lance. . . .
"Their feet rush into sin. . . . They pursue evil schemes (Isaiah 59:7)
Relational boundaries enable you to:
- Stand up for yourself and speak your mind appropriately
- Feel comfortable in giving honest feedback to others
- Be firm with others in a loving and gentle way
- Respect the rules of others and act in their best interest
- Express the rules you have established for your relationships
- Defend others and promote equality in relationships
God gives a model of how to do this in His Word. . . .
"Do to others as you would have them do to you."
Emotional and mental boundaries equip you to:
- Evaluate the appropriateness of your emotions in light of God's Word and deal with them accordingly
- Investigate truth for yourself and disengage from those who try to manipulate or hurt you and whose ideas and values are contrary to your own
- Guard against letting emotions rule you by focusing your mind on God's thoughts and on His character
- Keep your emotions governed by God's truths and His perspective on events in your life
- Experience natural human emotions and agree or disagree with others without fear or shame
- Respond emotionally to others and communicate your own thoughts and opinions in a Christlike way
God tells us to hold our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. . . .
"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
Spiritual boundaries allow you to:
- Experience a right relationship with God through trusting Christ
- Live in a way that pleases and honors God
- Distinguish God's will from the will of others that has been imposed on you
- Commit to being controlled by Christ, not by people
- Avoid spiritually abusive, manipulative, or divisive people
- Lead a victorious Christian life
God has established spiritual boundaries through His Word. . . .
"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."
Moral and ethical boundaries teach you to:
- Know the difference between right and wrong
- Appreciate the true value of people
- Live a life of moral integrity
- Be the same in public as you are in private
- Discern the true character of a person
- Evaluate the right way to think and act toward others
God calls us to do only what is right. . . .
"If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it."
Sexual boundaries authorize you to:
- Determine whether or not you will allow a person to touch you sexually
- Determine areas of appropriate sexual expression and activity
- Determine how you will respond in the heat of passionate temptation
- Determine personal purity that preserves sexual activity for a committed marriage relationship
- Determine the parameters you will place on your thought life regarding sex
- Determine what you will allow yourself to watch, listen to, and participate in that is of a sexual nature
God's Word clearly states these boundaries are not to be violated. . . .
"It is God's will that you should he sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable."
Physical boundaries help you to:
- Guard against abusive behavior
- Prevent physical injury to yourself and to others
- Protect yourself against threat or risk
- Shield yourself from danger or harm
- Avoid the appearance of impropriety
- Maintain a sense of being separate, having your own personal identity
God's Word reminds us that our bodies belong to God. . . .
"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."
Question: "What role do boundaries play in relationships, and just how important is it to establish boundaries?"
Answer: People with healthy boundaries understand the reality of our unique individuality and our need for mutually beneficial separateness. They know that we come into this world alone and we will enter the next world alone.
They accept that we are separate from one another . . . and yet we live with one another. We are individually responsible before God . . . and yet God holds us responsible for how we treat one another.
Clearly, although we are separate individuals, God made us to be in relationship with each other. The means by which we succeed at being both separate and together is established through healthy boundaries. Healthy people have healthy relationships because...
- They realize that healthy boundaries are...
- —To be modeled in our families
- —To be developed in our closest relationships
- —To be rooted in God's perfect will for us
- They understand that healthy boundaries provide...
- —Safety, security, and confidence in who we are
- —The ability to say no to others without guilt or fear
- —"Fences" to protect us, not to keep us away from one another
Healthy people have healthy boundaries. With boundaries we are able to juggle the two opposites of separateness and togetherness by creating and maintaining balance in our relationships. We do that by keeping God in His proper place and people in their proper place.
God comes first and people come second. . . .
"Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Biblical Counseling Keys: Boundaries: How to See Them - How to Keep Them.
God bless you all!
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