I Wanna Be Free

To accept Christ as Lord and Savior at your regeneration takes faith.
To believe His sacrifice and resurrection allows for our glorification at His return takes faith.
There is no talent, intellect, barter, payment, skill or anything that earned or deserved them. No control on my part. Now I chose (as you did) to confess my regeneration out loud to a group of others before my baptism and new church membership.
But in between my regeneration and my future glorification, there is sanctification, this time that is my life when I have a lot of choices to make. These choices do not change the regeneration or the glorification, but they surely do say a lot about what I believe God wants of me on this side of glorification.

Maturity is a progression of growth. During the progression there may be some dips and flat lines. But over time we want to see a consistent rise in this line that marks our sanctification. Everyone that goes to the Olympics is starting as a champion in their own country, but once you enter the Olympic competition you work for an even more elevated position by medaling. A medal one time doesn’t guarantee another one. Each event takes effort, work and persistence.

Freedom is an event. Freedom events have to happen over and over and over at such a consistent rate that you get the maturity level raises. Pastor always says to start with what you know. If all you know right now is Psalm 23 or Matthew 6:9-13 (The Lord’s Prayer), then each decision, every action should reflect that.
Can I be mature and not free?
Can I be free and yet immature?
To be free takes faith. It isn’t instinct or being in control.

Nothing is out of our control but out of our obedience.

Trial=Romans 5:1-3
Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his faithfulness[a] combined with our faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand through him, and we boast in the hope of God’s glory. 3 But not only that! We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance
• Our focus is forward therefore of faith
• The victory is Christ’s and Christ is in us
• Anything that shakes that joy is a trial
• We know it is affirming

Ephesians 5:18
Don’t get drunk on wine, which produces depravity. Instead, be filled with the Spirit in the following ways
• Be controlled by the Spirit…be willing to obey the Word of God in every situation
John 16:14
He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and proclaim it to you.
• Gloried=to show, to manifest, to give faith

Evidence of Maturing in Christ
• In character progress – Galatians 5:16-22
• I say be guided by the Spirit and you won’t carry out your selfish desires. 17 A person’s selfish desires are set against the Spirit, and the Spirit is set against one’s selfish desires. They are opposed to each other, so you shouldn’t do whatever you want to do. 18 But if you are being led by the Spirit, you aren’t under the Law. 19 The actions that are produced by selfish motives are obvious, since they include sexual immorality, moral corruption, doing whatever feels good, 20 idolatry, drug use and casting spells, hate, fighting, obsession, losing your temper, competitive opposition, conflict, selfishness, group rivalry, 21 jealousy, drunkenness, partying, and other things like that. I warn you as I have already warned you, that those who do these kinds of things won’t inherit God’s kingdom.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
o The way you should go (:17)
o You don’t have to look at a set of rules (:18)
o The bible gives indicators (:19)
• Bearing fruit of the Spirit is the product of walking with Christ; it is a measurement of maturing in Christ
• Review backslide – Galatians 5:19

The measurement standard – the fruit of the Spirit – Character of Christ
• Conduct should imitate Christ and ALL be filtered through the Word of God
o Character
o Thoughts
o Feelings
o Words
o Attitudes, desires, motivation
o Relationships
o Perspectives (the way you see things)
o Perception (how you understand things)
• Christ showed compassion
o Matthew 9:36 – Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them because they were troubled and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
o Matthew 14:14 – When Jesus arrived and saw a large crowd, he had compassion for them and healed those who were sick.
o Luke 7:13 – When he saw her, the Lord had compassion for her and said, “Don’t cry.”
• Christ showed love
o Mark 10:21 – Jesus looked at him carefully and loved him. He said, “You are lacking one thing. Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. And come, follow me.”
o Luke 19:41 – As Jesus came to the city and observed it, he wept over it.

Review Romans 8
Set free by the Spirit
8 So now there isn’t any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 God has done what was impossible for the Law, since it was weak because of selfishness. God condemned sin in the body by sending his own Son to deal with sin in the same body as humans, who are controlled by sin. 4 He did this so that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us. Now the way we live is based on the Spirit, not based on selfishness. 5 People whose lives are based on selfishness think about selfish things, but people whose lives are based on the Spirit think about things that are related to the Spirit. 6 The attitude that comes from selfishness leads to death, but the attitude that comes from the Spirit leads to life and peace. 7 So the attitude that comes from selfishness is hostile to God. It doesn’t submit to God’s Law, because it can’t. 8 People who are self-centered aren’t able to please God.
9 But you aren’t self-centered. Instead you are in the Spirit, if in fact God’s Spirit lives in you. If anyone doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, they don’t belong to him. 10 If Christ is in you, the Spirit is your life because of God’s righteousness, but the body is dead because of sin. 11 If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your human bodies also, through his Spirit that lives in you.
12 So then, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation, but it isn’t an obligation to ourselves to live our lives on the basis of selfishness. 13 If you live on the basis of selfishness, you are going to die. But if you put to death the actions of the body with the Spirit, you will live. 14 All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. 15 You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children. 17 But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him.
Our suffering and our hope
18 I believe that the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory that is going to be revealed to us. 19 The whole creation waits breathless with anticipation for the revelation of God’s sons and daughters. 20 Creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice—it was the choice of the one who subjected it—but in the hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from slavery to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of God’s children. 22 We know that the whole creation is groaning together and suffering labor pains up until now. 23 And it’s not only the creation. We ourselves who have the Spirit as the first crop of the harvest also groan inside as we wait to be adopted and for our bodies to be set free. 24 We were saved in hope. If we see what we hope for, that isn’t hope. Who hopes for what they already see? 25 But if we hope for what we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.
26 In the same way, the Spirit comes to help our weakness. We don’t know what we should pray, but the Spirit himself pleads our case with unexpressed groans. 27 The one who searches hearts knows how the Spirit thinks, because he pleads for the saints, consistent with God’s will. 28 We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 We know this because God knew them in advance, and he decided in advance that they would be conformed to the image of his Son. That way his Son would be the first of many brothers and sisters. 30 Those who God decided in advance would be conformed to his Son, he also called. Those whom he called, he also made righteous. Those whom he made righteous, he also glorified.
31 So what are we going to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He didn’t spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. Won’t he also freely give us all things with him?
33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect people? It is God who acquits them. 34 Who is going to convict them? It is Christ Jesus who died, even more, who was raised, and who also is at God’s right side. It is Christ Jesus who also pleads our case for us.
35 Who will separate us from Christ’s love? Will we be separated by trouble, or distress, or harassment, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
We are being put to death all day long for your sake.
We are treated like sheep for slaughter.[a]
37 But in all these things we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us. 38 I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers 39 or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.

Advertisements

You’re Not You When You’re Not Free

We don’t live isolated from others, do we? Not even when we try to steal or hide away for a moment or longer.
Often our maturity is exhibited in our relationships and interactions – from the intimate to the having no familiarity.

Are your interactions few because it is kind of known you are bothered?
Are you giving and patient to everyone else leaving little for those in your own home? Or perhaps it is the other way around?
What do you threaten when someone catches you impatient?
Oh how circumstantial is our treatment of others. Sometimes it is a hassle to be the one that has to put up, put out, give in and then there is a disappointment to not be the one called upon. How fickle we can be.

Is it not reasonable to expect temperaments to match my own? Shouldn’t I defend my feelings? I cannot help but to respond according to my conditions and situations.

The Snickers© commercials come to mind. When a person’s hunger causes him/her to act out in a way that is offensive and uncooperative and ‘the friend’ hands over and demands ‘the jerk’ to eat the Snickers©. And the candy bar restores everything to as it should be. What a friend. I am definitely not advocating having candy as a meal or in between to keep peace. HA. Jesus fasted from food AND water for forty days before there was even an attempt to cause Him to act out of character. But it is the Holy Spirit that is THAT friend AND the thing to guide and support us in our interactions and activities. How often are we too quick with our retorts? How often do we get the convictions after we threaten, cut, hurt, ignore or whatever we do to save face or protect our feelings?

Do we realize we are treating God with this impetuosity and instability? It isn’t that you are hungry or tired or inconvenienced. It is a maturity thing….a freedom thing.

JERKISM

What is a jerk?
1. Being a jerk means being selfish
2. Being a jerk means exhibiting any selfish thoughts or behavior that are ultimately harmful to someone
3. A Jerk is anyone who selfishly uses or abuses human beings or any one of God’s creation in any way, shape or form

We are all jerks.

What is the root cause of jerkiness?
• The root cause is a sense of selfish entitlement that is inborn and learned (babies come into the world as jerks)
• “I deserve to act, be or have what I want when and where I want it”
• Instead of talking about ‘my responsibilities’ we say “my rights”

Are you a jerk?
Jerkiness is old fashion narcissism.
Self-centeredness
“selfishness”
1st degree jerks – mild to moderate selfishness; no harm intended
2nd degree jerks – serious to acute selfishness purposely; manipulate with guild
Nth degree jerks – severe to sociopathic selfishness; enjoys using and abusing others with no guilt
Sociopathic – the tendency to selfishly use and abuse others; knowingly or unknowingly

How to escape the Jerk Trap:
1. You must be born again
2. Study, believe, become and apply the Word of God
3. Become more like Jesus Christ
4. Seek first the Kingdom of God
5. Live one day at a time

New Life
Colossians 2
• :6 So live in Christ Jesus the Lord in the same way as you received him.
o Just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord…(you were not forced, it was voluntary)
• YOU MUST…
• :7,8 Be rooted and built up in him, be established in faith, and overflow with thanksgiving just as you were taught. See to it that nobody enslaves you with philosophy and foolish deception, which conform to human traditions and the way the world thinks and acts rather than Christ.
1. Continue to live in obedience
2. Grow (if the roots aren’t right, the fruit won’t be right)
3. Be nourished (ingest regularly God’s Word)
4. Increase in faith (don’t run from the same stuff as before)
5. Be thankful
6. Not be misled

Living a New Life
Colossians 3
• :1 Therefore, if you were raised with Christ, look for the things that are above where Christ is sitting at God’s right side.
o …since you have been raised to new life with Christ…..
1. Set your signs on heavenly standards
2. Let heaven fill your thoughts
3. Don’t be common
4. Put to death sin
5. Reject sinful involvements
6. Don’t be greedy
7. Get rid of sick beliefs
8. Don’t lie
9. Be renewed
10. Know that Christ is all that matters

SATISFACTION GUARANTEED

Contentment is satisfaction, having ease of mind.
What/who motivates you? What speaks to you to cause you to seek something else, something more?
Is it comfort? Is it convenience? Is it comparison? For me, it could be any of those at a given moment. Schedules, budgets and the considerations of others all get impacted.

When you get the relationship change; you get the job/budget change; you get the titles/credentials; you get the thing, the stuff, the feeling, your way…..the contentment doesn’t last. Does it? Those things will become outdated or broken or insignificant/inconsequential; but definitely all will burn up.

When there is a spark of discontent, these other things are immediately inventoried. I should FIRST look at my alignment with God, His Word, my walk in Christ, my engagement with the Holy Spirit. For me (for any of us) to be satisfied with the spiritual life just as it is at this point is simple laziness, rebellion or perhaps unbelief of who I am and should be in Christ. Putting up blinders or playing the ignorance card is what Pastor calls a ‘ghetto mindset’. This was shared in an earlier post – sense of entitlement, victim mentality, blame game, hopelessness and haplessness. We use these excuses with ourselves and actually God when we seem satisfied just where we are spiritually. Let us not confuse peace and freedom with getting what we want (when, where and how we want).

Do I need to wait until I am in a circumstance to recognize my discontent with my spirituality?
Do I need to wait until I hear the Word from the pulpit on Sunday or Wednesday to recognize I am grieving the Spirit?

Peace and freedom afford contentment. Peace and freedom are what God provides through spiritual maturation.

STATES OF MATURITY
1. Baby Christian
a. A new born Christian is not spiritual
b. Even church members can be carnal, being only babes in Christ (1Corinthians 3:1-4) – such Christians are jealous of one another and quarrel with one another instead of solving problems with different “weapons” (2 Corinthians 10:4) to serve God’s purposes, destroy human arguments and human divisions, and bring glory to Christ
c. 2 Corinthians 10:1-8 I, Paul, make a personal request to you with the gentleness and kindness of Christ. I’m shy when I’m with you, but I’m bossy when I’m away from you! 2 I beg you that when I’m with you in person, I won’t have to boss you around. I’m afraid that I may have to use that kind of behavior with those people who think we live by human standards. 3 Although we live in the world, we don’t fight our battles with human methods. 4 Our weapons that we fight with aren’t human, but instead they are powered by God for the destruction of fortresses. They destroy arguments, 5 and every defense that is raised up to oppose the knowledge of God. They capture every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 6 Once your obedience is complete, we are ready to punish any disobedience. 7 Look at what is right in front of you! If anyone is sure about belonging to Christ, that person should think again. We belong to Christ just like that person. 8 Even if I went on to brag about our authority, I wouldn’t be ashamed of it. The Lord gave us that authority to build you up and not to destroy you.
2. Carnal Christian
a. Carnal is anything related to the fleshly or worldly appetites and desires rather than to the Godly and spiritual desires
b. Been around long enough but unwilling to yield; estranged from God and prone to sin; whatever in the soul is week and tends toward ungodliness
c. Romans 1:28-32 Since they didn’t think it was worthwhile to acknowledge God, God abandoned them to a defective mind to do inappropriate things. 29 So they were filled with all injustice, wicked behavior, greed, and evil behavior. They are full of jealousy, murder, fighting, deception, and malice. They are gossips, 30 they slander people, and they hate God. They are rude and proud, and they brag. They invent ways to be evil, and they are disobedient to their parents. 31 They are without understanding, disloyal, without affection, and without mercy. 32 Though they know God’s decision that those who persist in such practices deserve death, they not only keep doing these things but also approve others who practice them.
d. Carnality causes include:
i. Corrupt motives – John 6:26-27
ii. Failure to see the cross – Luke 22:33-37
iii. Living after the flesh – Romans 8:12-13
iv. Twofold – John 13:36-38
v. Commitment of the carnal – Matthew 26:51-52
e. Results of carnality include:
i. A divided church – 1 Corinthians 1:10-21
ii. A struggling soul – Romans 7:14-25
iii. Death – Romans 6:23, 8:5-8, 12-13
iv. Deformation and stymied growth thus remaining a babe in Christ – 1 Corinthians 3:1-2
v. Dullness of hearing – Hebrews 5:11
vi. Falling and failing – Luke 22:33-37, Hebrews 6:9-20
vii. Grieving the Lord – Mark 9:19-22
viii. Has be to be treated as a babe in Christ – 1 Corinthians 3:1-2, Hebrews 5:11-6:3
ix. Hurting and cutting a minister – 2 Corinthians 2:3-4
x. Self –deception – 1 Corinthians 3:18-23
xi. Works shall be burned up in the judgment – 1 Corinthians 3:13-15
3. Back Slider Christian
a. Longer time Christians may be deficient in their yielding to the Spirit
b. You can back slide in certain areas but be steadfast and committed to others
c. Backsliding is:
i. Turning from God 1 – Kings 11:9
ii. Leaving the first love – Revelation 2:4
iii. Departing from the simplicity of the gospel – 2 Corinthians 11:3; Galatians 3:1-3; Galatians 5:4,7
d. Results of backsliding include:
i. A failing faith – Luke 22:21-32
ii. A shipwrecked faith – 1 Timothy 1:19
iii. Being immature – Hebrews 5:11-6:2
iv. Being offended by Christ – Matthew 26:31-35; Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:27-31
v. Compromising and being permissive – Revelation 2:18-29
vi. Denying Christ – Matthew 26:31-34, 54-62; Mark 14-27-31; Luke 22:31-34, 54-62; John 13:36-38, 15-18, 25-27
vii. Drifting away – Hebrews 2:1-4
viii. Falling away – Hebrews 5:11-6:8
ix. Hardening one’s heart, depravity – Hebrews 3:7-19
x. Loving the world – 2 Timothy 4:10; 1 John 2:15-16
xi. Missing God’s rest – Hebrews 12:14-17
xii. Satan sifting as wheat – Luke 22:31-32
xiii. Withdrawing from the church – Hebrews 10:25
xiv. Flailing – Romans 6:1-2, 7:14-25; Galatians 1:6-9; Hebrews 10:26-39; 1 John 5:16; Rev. 2:4-6
e. The flesh may control the period of backsliding, but when coming back to the Lord the growth process doesn’t have to start at zero
f. Colossians 2 I want you to know how much I struggle for you, for those in Laodicea, and for all who haven’t known me personally. 2 My goal is that their hearts would be encouraged and united together in love so that they might have all the riches of assurance that come with understanding, so that they might have the knowledge of the secret plan[a] of God, namely Christ. 3 All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in him. 4 I’m telling you this so that no one deceives you with convincing arguments, 5 because even though I am absent physically, I’m with you in spirit. I’m happy to see the discipline and stability of your faith in Christ.6 So live in Christ Jesus the Lord in the same way as you received him. 7 Be rooted and built up in him, be established in faith, and overflow with thanksgiving just as you were taught. 8 See to it that nobody enslaves you with philosophy and foolish deception, which conform to human traditions and the way the world thinks and acts rather than Christ. 9 All the fullness of deity lives in Christ’s body. 10 And you have been filled by him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. 11 You were also circumcised by him. This wasn’t performed by human hands—the whole body was removed through this circumcision by Christ. 12 You were buried with him through baptism and raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 When you were dead because of the things you had done wrong and because your body wasn’t circumcised, God made you alive with Christ and forgave all the things you had done wrong. 14 He destroyed the record of the debt we owed, with its requirements that worked against us. He canceled it by nailing it to the cross. 15 When he disarmed the rulers and authorities, he exposed them to public disgrace by leading them in a triumphal parade. 16 So don’t let anyone judge you about eating or drinking or about a festival, a new moon observance, or sabbaths. 17 These religious practices are only a shadow of what was coming—the body that cast the shadow is Christ. 18 Don’t let anyone who wants to practice harsh self-denial and worship angels rob you of the prize. They go into detail about what they have seen in visions and have become unjustifiably arrogant by their selfish way of thinking. 19 They don’t stay connected to the head. The head nourishes and supports the whole body through the joints and ligaments, so the body grows with a growth that is from God. 20 If you died with Christ to the way the world thinks and acts, why do you submit to rules and regulations as though you were living in the world? 21 “Don’t handle!” “Don’t taste!” “Don’t touch!” 22 All these things cease to exist when they are used. Such rules are human commandments and teachings. 23 They look like they are wise with this self-made religion and their self-denial by the harsh treatment of the body, but they are no help against indulging in selfish immoral behavior.
g. Colossians 3 Therefore, if you were raised with Christ, look for the things that are above where Christ is sitting at God’s right side. 2 Think about the things above and not things on earth. 3 You died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. 5 So put to death the parts of your life that belong to the earth, such as sexual immorality, moral corruption, lust, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). 6 The wrath of God is coming upon disobedient people because of these things. 7 You used to live this way, when you were alive to these things. 8 But now set aside these things, such as anger, rage, malice, slander, and obscene language. 9 Don’t lie to each other. Take off the old human nature with its practices 10 and put on the new nature, which is renewed in knowledge by conforming to the image of the one who created it. 11 In this image there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all things and in all people. 12 Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. 14 And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 The peace of Christ must control your hearts—a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people. 16 The word of Christ must live in you richly. Teach and warn each other with all wisdom by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him. 18 Wives, submit to your husbands in a way that is appropriate in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and don’t be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, because this pleases the Lord. 21 Parents, don’t provoke your children in a way that ends up discouraging them. 22 Slaves, obey your masters on earth in everything. Don’t just obey like people pleasers when they are watching. Instead, obey with the single motivation of fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for people. 24 You know that you will receive an inheritance as a reward. You serve the Lord Christ. 25 But evildoers will receive their reward for their evil actions. There is no discrimination.

1 Corinthians 3 – Brothers and sisters, I couldn’t talk to you like spiritual people but like unspiritual people, like babies in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink instead of solid food, because you weren’t up to it yet. 3 Now you are still not up to it because you are still unspiritual. When jealousy and fighting exist between you, aren’t you unspiritual and living by human standards? 4 When someone says, “I belong to Paul,” and someone else says, “I belong to Apollos,” aren’t you acting like people without the Spirit?
• :1 – Talk to you not as an adult but a baby
• :2 – saints must be sensitive
• :3 – you are still controlled by your flesh
• :4 – it doesn’t matter what church you go to

These are stages of growth within maturity
• Romans 12:2 Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.
Stages of Maturity Growth

• We are born using our head and head.
• Our head needs a new birth so that our heart is now involved.

Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ.
• People you hang around should exhibit this scripture

John 15:1, 2 – “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. 2 He removes any of my branches that don’t produce fruit, and he trims any branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit.
• The storms I go through are not compared to those of the heathen.
• I am pruned instead of destroyed

John 15: 4, 5 – Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch can’t produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine. Likewise, you can’t produce fruit unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything.
• Your growth rate is your willingness to submit
Growth Rate with Willingness to Submit
Sanctification involves not being carnal and not backsliding
• Abstaining from fleshly lusts – 1 Peter 2:11-12
• Being spiritual minded – 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
• Prayer – 2 Corinthians 13:7-10
• Taking precautions against carnality – Hebrews 6:9-20,12:1
• Power of the Spirit – Romans 8:1-17, 12-13; Romans 7:14-17; 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:14; Hebrews 5:11-6:3
• Doing no evil 2 Corinthians 13:7
• Fighting and warring against carnality – 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
• Praying and fasting – Mark 9:28-29
• Purging our carnality – 1 Corinthians 5:7
• Watching and standing fast – 1 Corinthians 16:13
• Not being corrupted under a man’s ministry; lukewarm – Revelations 3:14-22
• Address spiritual immaturity – 1 Corinthians 3:1-4; Hebrews 5:11-6:3
• Address the carnal mind of mind – Romans 8:5-8
• Address the natural, fleshly nature of man – Romans 7:14-17
• Heeding advice for drifters – Hebrews 10:32-39
• Not to turn back – Galatians 4:8-11
• Restoration – Galatians 6:1-5; James 5:19-20

Does Your Attendance Count?

Some of us earned the ‘Perfect Attendance’ award at the end of school years not because of how happy we were to walk into that academic building and soak in all the knowledge available, but because we had parents who truly believed if bodily fluids stayed in for 10 seconds or no limbs disappeared, school attendance was a must. The tardy and absentee counts were monitored as closely as the grades reflected on a report card. A student just showing up to school meant so many things to different people. The community anticipates future citizens and their contributions. The school got money just for the warm bodies present. Many of the parents/guardians expected scholarship and leadership progress while others just wanted compliance. And for each student, the motive changes with the day and opportunity – security, significance, acceptance or to compare, compete, control. The right attitude or focus helps the time pass by AND we actually get something out of attending.

Just showing up is often used to track commitment, loyalty, belief in the program or worth of a program. If no one shows up it gets cancelled, right? Well…not always, so sometimes attendance is used as a passive/aggressive way to express satisfaction or acceptance. Our motives and our priorities are reflected in our attendance. Do I go just for show? Or do I go to get more?

The point?

I fool myself if I think by just attending and hoping for growth it will happen. Maturity and freedom are not automatic or received through osmosis as we age. It doesn’t happen just because conditions or circumstances change over a course of time. And trial and error will wear us out unnecessarily. Effort is required on my part in engaging my heart, mind and body to progress. I won’t run a mile if I cannot walk for 15 minutes. I won’t get a space cleaned walking past it or just talking about it. Relationship, job, education, goal fulfillment just won’t happen without continuous effort through completion.

All of these sound good and can be important but once you accept Jesus as your personal savior AND you acknowledge God as THE source of life, freedom, success, wisdom, contentment….THEN we should be on a quest to know AND do what that means. Right? If not, then we are speaking volumes what our priority or belief really is. We hope our attendance says one thing, but we work on the other thing. We hope we will suddenly lose a taste for whatever holds us. We hope somehow, someway there is a switch on the 100th day of attendance – like the 100th customer coming through the line and the balloons, confetti, music, cheers and fat oversized check come out with a surprise. Whew!!!

To believe the Bible (And I do. Don’t you?) …we see example after example after example of folk in attendance but longing for something else.
• Adam was JUST THERE. He wasn’t even in the conversation.
• Lot’s wife was ON THE ROAD to safety and JUST WANTED to see what she was leaving.
• Judas was present WITH THE LORD and yet he chose to be THAT GUY. Now without Christ’s sacrifice I would be outside of God’s family….but to be THAT GUY.
Selah.

life growth timeline b
Rate x Time = Distance
R x T = D
If my travel rate is 50 miles an hour and I travel for an entire hour then my distance will be 50 miles.

Time does not produce maturity.

• Time AND diligence in applying, studying AND obeying God’s Word will result in maturity.

• If you want to accelerate in maturity, you must totally commit to giving God total control of every aspect of your life.

• Spirituality is a grown up relation to the Holy Spirit. The way you do anything is the way you do everything.

Hebrews 5
Every high priest is taken from the people and put in charge of things that relate to God for their sake, in order to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 The high priest is able to deal gently with the ignorant and those who are misled since he himself is prone to weakness. 3 Because of his weakness, he must offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as for the people. 4 No one takes this honor for themselves but takes it only when they are called by God, just like Aaron.
5 In the same way Christ also didn’t promote himself to become high priest. Instead, it was the one who said to him, You are my Son. Today I have become your Father,
6 as he also says in another place, You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.[a]
7 During his days on earth, Christ offered prayers and requests with loud cries and tears as his sacrifices to the one who was able to save him from death. He was heard because of his godly devotion. 8 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience from what he suffered. 9 After he had been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for everyone who obeys him. 10 He was appointed by God to be a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
11 We have a lot to say about this topic, and it’s difficult to explain, because you have been lazy and you haven’t been listening. 12 Although you should have been teachers by now, you need someone to teach you an introduction to the basics about God’s message. You have come to the place where you need milk instead of solid food. 13 Everyone who lives on milk is not used to the word of righteousness, because they are babies. 14 But solid food is for the mature, whose senses are trained by practice to distinguish between good and evil.

• You cannot physically grow up if you ignore certain muscles.

• God wants us to grow up in Christ.

Ephesians 4
Therefore, as a prisoner for the Lord, I encourage you to live as people worthy of the call you received from God. 2 Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, 3 and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together. 4 You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all.
7 God has given his grace to each one of us measured out by the gift that is given by Christ. 8 That’s why scripture says, When he climbed up to the heights, he captured prisoners, and he gave gifts to people.[a]
9 What does the phrase “he climbed up” mean if it doesn’t mean that he had first gone down into the lower regions, the earth? 10 The one who went down is the same one who climbed up above all the heavens so that he might fill everything.
11 He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. 12 His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ 13 until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead others. 15 Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, 16 who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does their part.
The old and new life
17 So I’m telling you this, and I insist on it in the Lord: you shouldn’t live your life like the Gentiles anymore. They base their lives on pointless thinking, 18 and they are in the dark in their reasoning. They are disconnected from God’s life because of their ignorance and their closed hearts. 19 They are people who lack all sense of right and wrong, and who have turned themselves over to doing whatever feels good and to practicing every sort of corruption along with greed.
20 But you didn’t learn that sort of thing from Christ. 21 Since you really listened to him and you were taught how the truth is in Jesus, 22 change the former way of life that was part of the person you once were, corrupted by deceitful desires. 23 Instead, renew the thinking in your mind by the Spirit 24 and clothe yourself with the new person created according to God’s image in justice and true holiness.
25 Therefore, after you have gotten rid of lying, Each of you must tell the truth to your neighbor[b] because we are parts of each other in the same body. 26 Be angry without sinning.[c] Don’t let the sun set on your anger. 27 Don’t provide an opportunity for the devil. 28 Thieves should no longer steal. Instead, they should go to work, using their hands to do good so that they will have something to share with whoever is in need.
29 Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say. 30 Don’t make the Holy Spirit of God unhappy—you were sealed by him for the day of redemption. 31 Put aside all bitterness, losing your temper, anger, shouting, and slander, along with every other evil. 32 Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ.

I Corinthians 4:15
You may have ten thousand mentors in Christ, but you don’t have many fathers. I gave birth to you in Christ Jesus through the gospel

HELLO. My Name Is…..

I have trust issues.

There, I have said it.

Admission is the first step.

Circumstances and feelings have ruled my days for the longest. The hurts and disappointments, the close calls, the broken promises and lies, the inconveniences and the wasted energies, the got out of hands were land mines I planted for future relationships and interactions. It wasn’t that pay backs were being planned. It was more of how do I ‘fix me’ so that future experiences are not such a surprise or as painful so that I make each day as comfortable or successful as I can. At times, conviction would swell in me about responding in a way to hurt or shame the accused, so I reduce it to self-soothing, curtness and a hardening heart. Although I presumed I am protecting me, I am actually MORE vulnerable and distanced from God. I am not trusting HIM to protect me. I am looking at my circumstance to define if God loves and provides for me. I cannot say from where the thought came that God is about forcing the elements to bring me happiness or that I can only serve when I am happy. Not only that, I am seeping in poison. Whether I choose to maim someone when there is a blow up or it is more like killing ‘em softly like the continual intake of sugar, salt, processed foods, and hydrogenated oils –there is a diagnosis lying in wait or it be just may be too late and the damage is final. Fear and pride drive trust issues and feed the coping and fixing.

Trust is a faith walk. Not how to make it sound right. Not about who or how many agree with or feel me. Not about how I handle things to survive. Trust by faith cannot become a habit unless it is practiced, consistently practiced – not reserved for certain circumstances or the right conditions. Otherwise, my peace and focus yo-yo. Not submitting to one’s own survival instincts feels like self-mutilation or Russian roulette or suicide. Feelings surely are strong and convincing and deceiving. AND I cannot compare my track record with someone else’s to feel better or worse about myself…..those feelings driving behavior again. Ezekiel 33:12-20. Being more responsive to someone else being inconsiderate is delaying MY opportunity to mature in Christ. I am pretending someone else is in more need. I love catching myself in mid attitude breaking into the song “It’s me-e-e, Ohhhh Lord….”.

I am not a Star Wars fan, but there is a quote so applicable from the character Yoda. “Do or do not. There is no try.” Each time I DO walk by the Spirit, I am not trusting in myself. Each time I DO walk by the Spirit, my circumstances are not by which I am defined, but my faith is. It isn’t about who hears or sees or what they hear or see. Then it is fear and pride again. It is not about comparing my steps to another person’s steps or the perfect alignment with another person’s. The Word provides example after example of those who do by faith – no details of guilt, force, or an immediate reward promised. It is just that we can now read what the results were.
• Joshua 2:1-21 Rehab, a prostitute, acted only by what she heard of God and became part of the family line from which Jesus was born
• Joshua 3:15-17 priests obediently carried the chest to the Jordan banks without a hint of dry land
• Ezra 3:3 the people of Israel were released from a takeover for the sole purpose to rebuild God’s temple and they did so even though they were afraid of the people who occupied their areas
• Job a man purposely tested and continued to honor God
• John 6:9-12 a young person gave up a small lunch that became a feeding miracle
• The disciples leaving their families and livelihoods to follow Jesus

What results are we (our homes, our children, our ministry, our communities) missing out on because of a lack of trust?

REVIEW
• Premise: Genuine and wholesome spirituality is the goal of all Christian Living
• Philosophy/Principle: I Corinthians 2; Ephesians 5

1. Regeneration or new birth is required before you can walk in the Spirit
2. The Holy Spirit is preeminently involved in the Spirit walk
3. To be filled with the Spirit means to be controlled by the Spirit
4. The Spirit walk is a process
5. Rate multiplies by time equals distance

• Psalms 1 – The truly happy person doesn’t follow wicked advice, doesn’t stand on the road of sinners, and doesn’t sit with the disrespectful.2 Instead of doing those things, these persons love the LORD’s Instruction, and they recite God’s Instruction day and night!3 They are like a tree replanted by streams of water, which bears fruit at just the right time and whose leaves don’t fade. Whatever they do succeeds.4 That’s not true for the wicked!
They are like dust that the wind blows away.5 And that’s why the wicked will have no standing in the court of justice—neither will sinners in the assembly of the righteous.6 The LORD is intimately acquainted with the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked is destroyed.
• Ephesians 5:1-11 – Therefore, imitate God like dearly loved children. 2 Live your life with love, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us. He was a sacrificial offering that smelled sweet to God.
3 Sexual immorality, and any kind of impurity or greed, shouldn’t even be mentioned among you, which is right for holy persons. 4 Obscene language, silly talk, or vulgar jokes aren’t acceptable for believers. Instead, there should be thanksgiving. 5 Because you know for sure that persons who are sexually immoral, impure, or greedy—which happens when things become gods—those persons won’t inherit the kingdom of Christ and God.
6 Nobody should deceive you with stupid ideas. God’s anger comes down on those who are disobedient because of this kind of thing. 7 So you shouldn’t have anything to do with them. 8 You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, so live your life as children of light. 9 Light produces fruit that consists of every sort of goodness, justice, and truth. 10 Therefore, test everything to see what’s pleasing to the Lord, 11 and don’t participate in the unfruitful actions of darkness. Instead, you should reveal the truth about them.
• Ephesians 5:12 – It’s embarrassing to even talk about what certain persons do in secret.
o Don’t even talk about the sins of others
• Ephesians 5:13-14 – But everything exposed to the light is revealed by the light. Everything that is revealed by the light is light. Therefore, it says, “Wake up, sleeper! Get up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
o Folk ought to get uncomfortable around you; and you are not to be holier than thou but thankful for grace, mercy
• Ephesians 5:15 – So be careful to live your life wisely, not foolishly.
o Don’t do wrong to just get along
• Ephesians 5:16-17 – Take advantage of every opportunity because these are evil times. Because of this, don’t be ignorant, but understand the Lord’s will.
o Engage your brain before engaging your mouth, hands, feet
• Ephesians 5:18 – Don’t get drunk on wine, which produces depravity. Instead, be filled with the Spirit in the following ways:
o You are guided and directed by demonic forces which will wreck your life
• Ephesians 5:19-21 – speak to each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; sing and make music to the Lord in your hearts; always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; and submit to each other out of respect for Christ
o If you are Spirit filled, controlled by the Spirit, you will submit to another out of reverence for Christ not another’s position
• Ephesians 5:22-33 – For example, wives should submit to their husbands as if to the Lord. 23 A husband is the head of his wife like Christ is head of the church, that is, the savior of the body. 24 So wives submit to their husbands in everything like the church submits to Christ. 25 As for husbands, love your wives just like Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. 26 He did this to make her holy by washing her in a bath of water with the word. 27 He did this to present himself with a splendid church, one without any sort of stain or wrinkle on her clothes, but rather one that is holy and blameless. 28 That’s how husbands ought to love their wives—in the same way as they do their own bodies. Anyone who loves his wife loves himself. 29 No one ever hates his own body, but feeds it and takes care of it just like Christ does for the church 30 because we are parts of his body. 31 This is why a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two of them will be one body.[a] 32 Marriage is a significant allegory,[b] and I’m applying it to Christ and the church. 33 In any case, as for you individually, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and wives should respect[c] their husbands.
o You must be filled with the Spirit (controlled by the Spirit) in order to fulfill this chapter

Problems raining on people

Feelings are shadows. When you get feelings….as long as you don’t act on that negative feeling, you are still under the umbrella of God.

The Spirit walk is a process not an event.
• Hebrews 5:11-14 – We have a lot to say about this topic, and it’s difficult to explain, because you have been lazy and you haven’t been listening. 12 Although you should have been teachers by now, you need someone to teach you an introduction to the basics about God’s message. You have come to the place where you need milk instead of solid food. 13 Everyone who lives on milk is not used to the word of righteousness, because they are babies. 14 But solid food is for the mature, whose senses are trained by practice to distinguish between good and evil.

• Hebrews 6:1 – So let’s press on to maturity, by moving on from the basics about Christ’s word. Let’s not lay a foundation of turning away from dead works, of faith in God

Improvising or Real Growth?

We seek professional guidance for our education, careers, jobs, hobbies, interests, health, justice and appearance – for whenever we have a goal in mind. We want a sure fire thing. We want the best route and an easy one is bonus. We go to accredited people or organizations to earn degrees, certifications, credits, plans of action or titles of specialty. These credentials may help in getting started or a boost, but it is the actual practice over time where you discover and display the knowhow, expertise and reap the benefits. Right?

When we get tired or don’t see the results we expected by a certain time we take a break or change course or find new guidance or just say ‘done’. Sometimes we are reminded of what was unfinished when opportunities pass because of the ‘missing paper’ or time reveals the lack of discipline in our health and lifestyle. And other times, we are thankful and relieved for the course change. Can’t remember why we started in the first place?

These professional and personal goals and accomplishments show moments in our lives. I am all about goals and checklists. But if I am not careful there is almost a sense of desperation if it isn’t working out as I expected. Attitudes and interactions get all skewed. There are long stints of frustration and fix it attempts. I start to major in the minors (like events, circumstance, feelings and setbacks) and treating the majors (like faith, God’s will and relationships) like minors. SIDE NOTE: Reiterated in this week’s New Living Bible Study class a person can become prideful with a long string of success and accomplishments which can potentially lead you to take on what you shouldn’t and do/speak outside of God’s will. See II Chronicles 26, Proverbs 18:12, 13, Proverbs 16:18, Proverbs 16:9, Deuteronomy 32:13-15. Pastor says to be constantly mindful of who and whose you are and recognize God in all of it.

What WILL show achievements and accomplishments in maturity? Freedom? Growth? Character? This is where lives, homes, families, communities, generations are actually impacted. Credentialed or not, idols and false foundations will have me compromising and inconsistent.

There is no paper to certify or prove that personal achievement. Age does not guarantee it. Just having the knowledge is just that – knowing better. But that is the first step – to know. It has to be truth. Perhaps this is confused with legal or acceptable or even desirable. Just because it is legal, tolerated or just simply my will, it does not equate with truth or freedom.

Who/what is the sure fire guide with unfaltering credentials to guide me… guide us through each day of our lives? Not look the part or speak the part when certain folk are around or when I think it counts or not a circumstantial thing but is ingrained.

It is revealed you must have the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

Nothing says the means by which the Spirit teaches us. It may be in meditation, teachers in the church, books, etc. but it is the Spirit of God that does the teaching no matter how. You can’t know truth outside the Spirit of God.

John 16:12:15
• 12 “I have much more to say to you, but you can’t handle it now. 13 However, when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you in all truth. He won’t speak on his own, but will say whatever he hears and will proclaim to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and proclaim it to you. 15 Everything that the Father has is mine. That’s why I said that the Spirit takes what is mine and will proclaim it to you.
1 Corinthians 2:12-12
• 10 God has revealed these things to us through the Spirit. The Spirit searches everything, including the depths of God. 11 Who knows a person’s depths except their own spirit that lives in them? In the same way, no one has known the depths of God except God’s Spirit. 12 We haven’t received the world’s spirit but God’s Spirit so that we can know the things given to us by God.

The concept of spirituality is seldom defined. What are the attributes or requirements? Faith is what you know and believe about God, His Word and you. Believe includes the component DO.

There are many born again people who are in bondage and don’t know or have knowledge of the Spirit. Being born again doesn’t free you from bondage.
Ephesians 2:1-10
• At one time you were like a dead person because of the things you did wrong and your offenses against God. 2 You used to act like most people in our world do. You followed the rule of a destructive spiritual power. This is the spirit of disobedience to God’s will that is now at work in persons whose lives are characterized by disobedience. 3 At one time you were like those persons. All of you used to do whatever felt good and whatever you thought you wanted so that you were children headed for punishment just like everyone else.
• 4-5 However, God is rich in mercy. He brought us to life with Christ while we were dead as a result of those things that we did wrong. He did this because of the great love that he has for us. You are saved by God’s grace! 6 And God raised us up and seated us in the heavens with Christ Jesus. 7 God did this to show future generations the greatness of his grace by the goodness that God has shown us in Christ Jesus.
• 8 You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith.[a] This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed. 9 It’s not something you did that you can be proud of. 10 Instead, we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives.

Growth Life Timeline Chart

I Corinthians 2:15 – Spiritual people comprehend everything, but they themselves aren’t understood by anyone.
When do you get the mind of Christ – spirituality?
• Romans 12:2 – Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.
• Although the heart is fixed once you confess Christ, your mind isn’t fixed
o Psalm 1:1-6 – The truly happy person doesn’t follow wicked advice, doesn’t stand on the road of sinners, and doesn’t sit with the disrespectful.2 Instead of doing those things,
these persons love the LORD’s Instruction, and they recite God’s Instruction day and night!3 They are like a tree replanted by streams of water, which bears fruit at just the right time and whose leaves don’t fade. Whatever they do succeeds.4 That’s not true for the wicked! They are like dust that the wind blows away.5 And that’s why the wicked will have no standing in the court of justice—neither will sinners in the assembly of the righteous.6 The LORD is intimately acquainted with the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked is destroyed.
• The mind of Christ can only be procured if the Word of God is read, studied, heard.

Genuine spirituality involves
1. Regeneration (new life in Christ) – transformation is through God – John 3
2. The Holy Spirit is involved in producing spirituality by putting God first – Matthew 6:33

Freedom Path – Spirit>Soul>Body

The past is the past whether years or just minutes ago. Past events leave prints in us. Sometimes we wear the prints like badges and interact with folk and situations according to that badge. Sometimes those prints are deep inside and we learn to ignore them. Or we cope with them (“you know this is just my personality”). And then there are prints we didn’t realize were still there….such distant memories – we thought purged, done and gone.

My belief is what influences the decisions (my emotions, my will) of what I will do or say. And with each experience we feed our beliefs and thoughts creating a cycle of how we deal with life – the mundane, the routine, the challenges, the opportunities, the accomplishments and the miracles.

Every moment of life brings potential triggers that recall (intentional or not) our prints, our previous experiences. It could be a smell, sound, sight, touch, taste, request, action or a combination of them. A life trigger sets off a land mine – one that is negative or positive, depends on the print.

I have no recollection, but family members often retell of an extended family trip where I almost drowned. My aunt was the only person that could swim and she rescued me. My mother enrolled me in swimming lessons soon after but I went AWOL. THAT (refusing to participate) I remember. I never did pool parties or water parks. No way, no how. So invitations sparked a negative explosion. Sometimes I would respond negatively as if I was asked to renounce God. And other times my explosion would be internal pity, disgust or shame. I had passed on the fear to my children by my conniption outbursts when they got into more than ankle deep water. Negative, right?

And then pit bulls (healthy, friendly ones) and fresh cut grass (the look or smell) create explosions for me as well. My father worked a lot. When he was home and it was daylight he would get involved with two of his three passions – his yard, his dogs and his cars. He kept THE BEST lawn. It is like thick, plush 5- 6 inches of new, organic carpet – no detail or corner neglected. When he finished manicuring, he would linger outside to admire. This is when I would come out to hang next to him in the fresh cut grass aroma. It was also the only time we were allowed to walk on the lawn so I took full advantage with bare toes. He also bred pit bulls. I would help and hang out for quality time. He would often mention to others how I was his helper. Triggers for these set off explosions of smiles, warm fuzzies and a desire to take a walk and talk. Sounds happy. And yet, sometimes when I get this happy I want to ‘extend’ the ‘feeling’. I overspend. I overcommit. I want to eat and drink without abandon. And then at the end of the month I wonder ‘What happened?’ when my account or schedule is negative or my clothes are too snug. I wish I had gotten into the car maintenance thing but it was too dirty and the music was too loud.

So we want to grow into maturity and freedom. It is a heart, mind and behavior (body) engagement. We cannot control the first initial reaction we have to a trigger. It isn’t realistic. We cannot isolate ourselves to avoid or ignore them. It isn’t the trigger or the explosion we can control. The explosion can be those ‘feelings’: happy, sad or mad; get nauseous or a headache; tense up or have nerves go haywire; go cold or crave intimacy. Our evaluation (what we can control) of the explosion focuses on the trigger and landmine and feeds our next step, the response. This response (also what we control) is whatever our habit, nature or learned response is – become legalistic or risky; go on the offense or defense; go along or reject; feel the pain or seek pleasure; flight or fight.

Our attention needs to be on the present considering where we are today. This can stabilize the response – not having to cut my eyes, curse, yell, character defame and hit, accuse, take back/destroy, refuse to show up (mentally, emotionally or physically), make poor choices because of the reaction to the explosion. We CAN diffuse the explosive response based on the truth of God’s Word. Doing this avoids entrapment or dwelling on the failures.

TWT TIN - This was then This is now

When we get entrapped, it seems as if our behavior is automatic. Sometimes we can explain the behavior with an excuse or reason. And then sometimes, we say in regard to why we said or did it, “I don’t know why I did” or “I wasn’t thinking”. Is that really true? Perhaps there was an unwillingness to think through and we justify our actions (or inaction) through fear or pride.
• Sense of entitlement (I deserve; my right; I don’t want to miss out; how I feel)
• Victim mentality (I was practically forced to; you/they didn’t help)
• Blame game (not my fault; I couldn’t help it)
• Hopelessness (I was desperate)
• Haplessness (my will; willingness to gamble; dare the consequences to come; it doesn’t matter anyway; I don’t care)

What we believe comes from the heart where the spirit dwells.
What we think comes from the mind where the soul dwells.
What we do happens through the body, our physical being.

spirit soul body

Self-improvement plans are only engaging the mind and body and after some time the mind can’t reason to keep going and the body stops doing. It wasn’t in my heart – it won’t stick. My source of support and strength is not me, or others or other things. It is God. And through Him, others can be used as resources for support. So if I really want to be free, I have to focus on what God says today. I can know what He says by searching with my whole heart. THEN He can help me get my head together. THEN my behavior, my responses will fall accordingly. It isn’t a one hit wonder. We have to search, practice and do it over and over and over and over and over and over. Sometimes there may be a struggle or a miss, but remember that a second gone by becomes the past.

Review I Corinthians 2
Homework: Research genuine spirituality (see post from June 14, 2013)

To love God is to hate evil.
God does not tolerate sin.
God does not share His glory. I Corinthians 1:29
• So no human being can brag in God’s presence.
Boast only about what God has done, not the good through you. Psalm 119:11
• I keep your word close, in my heart, so that I won’t sin against you.

Our job with others is to introduce them to Christ. Jesus will work with them once they have accepted Christ in their hearts.

Romans 8:5-8
• People whose lives are based on selfishness think about selfish things, but people whose lives are based on the Spirit think about things that are related to the Spirit. 6 The attitude that comes from selfishness leads to death, but the attitude that comes from the Spirit leads to life and peace. 7 So the attitude that comes from selfishness is hostile to God. It doesn’t submit to God’s Law, because it can’t. 8 People who are self-centered aren’t able to please God.
Galatians 6:1
• Brothers and sisters, if a person is caught doing something wrong, you who are spiritual should restore someone like this with a spirit of gentleness. Watch out for yourselves so you won’t be tempted too.
I Corinthians 2:14
• But people who are unspiritual don’t accept the things from God’s Spirit. They are foolishness to them and can’t be understood, because they can only be comprehended in a spiritual way.
Proverbs 16:2
• All the ways of people are pure in their eyes, but the LORD tests the motives.
Matthew 10:1
• He called his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to throw them out and to heal every disease and every sickness.
Hebrews 1:14
• Aren’t all the angels ministering spirits who are sent to serve those who are going to inherit salvation?
I John 4:1
• Dear friends, don’t believe every spirit. Test the spirits to see if they are from God because many false prophets have gone into the world.
Romans 8:29
• We know this because God knew them in advance, and he decided in advance that they would be conformed to the image of his Son. That way his Son would be the first of many brothers and sisters.

Maturity, Freedom

When I was a young girl, I longed to be free of the rules and seemingly confining authority of my strict parents. I wanted to prove I was mature before I needed or had to. I thought freedom was having no boundaries. I used comparisons of those I knew who had parents not at home, not aware or just plain clueless as well as what the media portrayed as the happy life. I was not content. My parents seemed to always say “not now” or “no”. They always chaperoned and weren’t ‘hip’ (but you couldn’t tell my Dad that!). And I wasn’t hip either. I always had to ask for permission and I couldn’t/wouldn’t question them. My mother often reminded me of ‘how dumb’ I was. That flared up my pride. Those years through my twenties, I thought the adults were the dumb ones. It was evident they weren’t happy or living ‘the dream’.

How blinding pride can be leading the young (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually) to think inexperience can outperform/outdo experience without wisdom, correction, protection and encouragement. After years of living independent of my parents and God not happy or living the dream, I came to Jesus as I was. I finally understood the principle of obedience and submission. Young hearts, obedience and submission are not to be demeaning but for protection and accountability. Aren’t the mature accountable and responsible?

During pre-marital counseling, I was assigned to write letters to each parent and share the emotional distress I believed originated from my youth. This exercise was to reveal things I needed not take into my marriage. I wrote and wrote and wrote pouring it all out – writing what happened and what didn’t happen in my childhood. The notes were not disrespectful or distasteful pointing fingers and accusing. It relayed a child’s limited perceptions and feelings and how they manifested in a grown woman. The exposure of my thoughts and feelings brought sadness and trepidation. I announced with accomplishment to Pastor at a future session “I did it. I mailed the letters.” Pastor doesn’t usually show double take facial expressions during counseling but this time his brow lifted a little and his eyes widened a bit and he smiled saying calmly, slowly “Daughter, you weren’t supposed to mail the letters. The exercise was for you to capture those things from your past you hang onto.” WHAT?! Oh No! Wait!!

Now I get excited at opportunities to sit or hang with my mother, father, aunts, uncles, grands and until recently my great grandmother. I now try to ask and listen to as much as I can. I don’t have all of my children grown, married, college educated, in church homes active. My mother does. I am not a debt free home and land owner. She is. I am not married to the father of my children for 45 years and counting. She is. And her mother (my grandmother who is still living) has a greater witness and testimony. It wasn’t their youth, being happy all the time or pride that has sustained them. I AM the dumb one. Believe you me, there are no pride flare ups now to call me dumb. (SIDEBAR: Women Walking In Victory classmates – remember the Matthew 5:22 discussion? No pride either when called an idiot. Good times.) Those letters would read so differently now. Not because what I wrote wasn’t true, but because time, grace and mercy have given glimpses where my mother was and although technology and tools have changed…there is NOTHING new under the sun. Maturity (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually) takes time and development. Freedom from obedience is confused with freedom from interference. We don’t want to miss out on the interference. We want bliss – no restrictions, not have to be sober to deal with the past/present, no limitations, no consequences, no sacrifices, get it now, fit my attitude. We know this isn’t real. Or rather it is real chaos whether the struggle is trusting, knowing, or heeding to God. See Romans 1:21.

Genuine (=Biblical) and wholesome (=balanced) spirituality is the goal of Christian life, Christian living.

Biblical is maturing in the Word.
Balanced is growth and development in the Word.
Spiritual is pertaining to the spirit.

Ephesians 6:12 – We aren’t fighting against human enemies but against rulers, authorities, forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil in the heavens.
• Spirit beings are distinct from human
Romans 7:14 – We know that the Law is spiritual, but I’m made of flesh and blood, and I’m sold as a slave to sin.
• God’s law prospers the user

I Corinthians 15:44 – It’s a physical body when it’s put into the ground, but it’s raised as a spiritual body. If there’s a physical body, there’s also a spiritual body.
Romans 1:11 – I really want to see you to pass along some spiritual gifts to you so that you can be strengthened.
1 Corinthians 12:1 – Brothers and sisters, I don’t want you to be ignorant about spiritual gifts.
1 Corinthians 14:1 – Pursue love, and use your ambition to try to get spiritual gifts but especially so that you might prophesy.
1 Corinthians 10:3-4 – All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. They drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.
Colossians 3:16 – The word of Christ must live in you richly. Teach and warn each other with all wisdom by signing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Colossians 1:9 – Because of this, since the day we heard about you, we haven’t stopped praying for you and asking for you to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, with all wisdom and spiritual understanding.

The secret place of the most high is in the Word.

1 Corinthians 2
2 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I didn’t come preaching God’s secrets to you like I was an expert in speech or wisdom. 2 I had made up my mind not to think about anything while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and to preach him as crucified. 3 I stood in front of you with weakness, fear, and a lot of shaking. 4 My message and my preaching weren’t presented with convincing wise words but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. 5 I did this so that your faith might not depend on the wisdom of people but on the power of God.
Definition of wisdom
6 What we say is wisdom to people who are mature. It isn’t a wisdom that comes from the present day or from today’s leaders who are being reduced to nothing. 7 We talk about God’s wisdom, which has been hidden as a secret. God determined this wisdom in advance, before time began, for our glory. 8 It is a wisdom that none of the present-day rulers have understood, because if they did understand it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory! 9 But this is precisely what is written: God has prepared things for those who love him that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being.[a] 10 God has revealed these things to us through the Spirit. The Spirit searches everything, including the depths of God. 11 Who knows a person’s depths except their own spirit that lives in them? In the same way, no one has known the depths of God except God’s Spirit. 12 We haven’t received the world’s spirit but God’s Spirit so that we can know the things given to us by God. 13 These are the things we are talking about—not with words taught by human wisdom but with words taught by the Spirit—we are interpreting spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 But people who are unspiritual don’t accept the things from God’s Spirit. They are foolishness to them and can’t be understood, because they can only be comprehended in a spiritual way. 15 Spiritual people comprehend everything, but they themselves aren’t understood by anyone. 16 Who has known the mind of the Lord, who will advise him?[b] But we have the mind of Christ.
1. Wisdom (:1-8) comes from God
2. The Spirit (:9-16) is given to us by God

God speaks through His Holy Spirit

Right Beliefs, Right Behaviors

During laast weeks’ Vacation Bible School, the lesson Practical Family Discipleship shared points on embracing and serving in the freedom when single (Oh where, oh where was this lesson when I was 27? And would I have listened and heeded?) as well as serving and focusing on spouses when married. An attendee asked a great question.

“Does marriage get easier?”

Responses varied including staying in one’s own role, fulfilling responsibilities, love, respect, focus on God. That seems so simple, hunh? But it doesn’t always get or stay easy, does it? When our expectations are not met (in that moment or whatever time frame) we focus on the disappointment, the frustration and the fix. Expectations are based on our history, our desires, and what we believe is the order, what should happen, what we want to happen, what we expect to happen.

I have found the pain points in marriage involve expectations with money, sex and/or children. There are others…but they all seem to tie back to these.  And those are the surface items. When we are honest, those insecurities, being in control, what I see as success or failure, being content, being happy are the root of the pain point. Our behaviors manifest in the choices we think we have to make, our decisions, our expectations…what we do and say in public and in secret (or so we think). And our behaviors (ALL OF OUR BEHAVIORS) are manifestations of our beliefs.

Not getting along at home surely makes it harder to focus. Making every choice that fits the Integrity Screen checklist.

Do the right thing

The right way

For the right reason

Expecting the right results

To benefit others

Glorifying God

It is easier to get distracted. It is easier to ignore. It is easier to focus on what will make me feel better for the moment.

Soooooooo….if it starts with beliefs, how do I start with beliefs where I am now?

Romans 12:1-3

Living sacrifice and transformed lives

12 So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. 2 Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.

Transformed relationships

3 Because of the grace that God gave me, I can say to each one of you: don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Instead, be reasonable since God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of you.

Romans 12:1 – changing the temple

Romans 12:2 – changing the mind

Behavior reflects what I believe.

Behavior informs my belief.

We lie because we don’t believe what God says about lying.

If I want to walk victoriously I must live victoriously.

Study 1 Corinthians 2

2 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I didn’t come preaching God’s secrets to you like I was an expert in speech or wisdom. 2 I had made up my mind not to think about anything while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and to preach him as crucified. 3 I stood in front of you with weakness, fear, and a lot of shaking. 4 My message and my preaching weren’t presented with convincing wise words but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. 5 I did this so that your faith might not depend on the wisdom of people but on the power of God.

6 What we say is wisdom to people who are mature. It isn’t a wisdom that comes from the present day or from today’s leaders who are being reduced to nothing. 7 We talk about God’s wisdom, which has been hidden as a secret. God determined this wisdom in advance, before time began, for our glory. 8 It is a wisdom that none of the present-day rulers have understood, because if they did understand it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory! 9 But this is precisely what is written: God has prepared things for those who love him that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being.[a] 10 God has revealed these things to us through the Spirit. The Spirit searches everything, including the depths of God. 11 Who knows a person’s depths except their own spirit that lives in them? In the same way, no one has known the depths of God except God’s Spirit. 12 We haven’t received the world’s spirit but God’s Spirit so that we can know the things given to us by God. 13 These are the things we are talking about—not with words taught by human wisdom but with words taught by the Spirit—we are interpreting spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 But people who are unspiritual don’t accept the things from God’s Spirit. They are foolishness to them and can’t be understood, because they can only be comprehended in a spiritual way. 15 Spiritual people comprehend everything, but they themselves aren’t understood by anyone. 16 Who has known the mind of the Lord, who will advise him?[b] But we have the mind of Christ.

Genuine (=biblical) and wholesome (=balanced) spirituality is the goal of all Christian living.

The Bible is the guide and test of one’s spiritual life.

HELLO!

Life is an ongoing adventure. Isn’t it?

Choices. Time. Focus. History. Habits. Relationships. Circumstances. Challenges. 

We make convictions and compromises to satisfy our security, acceptance and signficance needs. We seek conceptions, education and information that we hope will take us to the right opporutnities that will make us happy and free. God has provided what we need for success – something to believe in, someone to believe in and someone to believe in you.

Through these discussions, let’s look at this ongoing life adventure.

Lisa