Old Nature/New Nature?

I am convinced that there has been a deliberate effort to downplay this foundational truth by none other than Satan himself. How has he accomplished this? It’s simple really! All he had to do was to design distractions that would prevent Christians from becoming students of the Bible. This in turn would directly affect our prayer life. How, we might ask? Everything, and I mean everything, we need to know to live life and communicate with God is laid out for us within the pages of the Bible.

Too many of us, as Christians, have unknowingly succumbed to this distraction of the enemy. Therefore, we have an uninformed perspective concerning our old nature vs our new nature. Please allow me to share a personal example to illustrate this.

July 18 was my birthday! If you are curious, I turned 73. The day started off rather nicely. My husband gave me a lovely tea mug, which included a cup strainer and lid. After steeping some heather tea, I carried my new tea mug to my front porch to enjoy a few quiet moments sipping on my tea, and listening to the gentle rhythm of a summer rain.

Too soon the rain ceased, and my husband left for the day to make a hospital visit. After waving goodbye, I opened the front door. Only to be assaulted by the aftermath of the recent three week stay of two of my children and their families. Someone had to start cleaning up that mess, even if it was her birthday!!!

The thoughts born by my bonny porch moment slowly began to deteriorate. Supplanted by, “No one should have to spend their birthday alone. And cleaning up this gigantic mess left by others is no way to celebrate!”

Even though I know better, I was permitting my old nature to rule my thoughts and shape my perspective. My old nature is aggravatingly self-centered. Always promoting my will over God’s will. As the day wore on my self-centered old nature grew sadder and sadder. In spite of all my efforts to redirect my thoughts, my perspective stubbornly remained the same.

The next day dawned finding me entrenched in negativity. Somehow I sensed relief would come only if I thoroughly disconnected from my negative focus. Picking up a historical fiction book I had been reading, I lost myself in the cares and challenges faced by its characters. By the time I concluded the book, the transformation of my perspective had been accomplished.

Once again my new nature set me on a healing course. The clarity I received was this, “I had been allowing my self-centered old nature to speak louder than my Christ-centered new nature.”

That illumination empowered me to shut down the voice bent on my destruction and listen to the voice intent my restoration.

It’s the ongoing battle between the old nature (our flesh) and the new nature (our spirit.) And here’s the secret. Before we became a Christian we were ruled by a nature set in rebellion against God. On becoming a Christian we received the nature of Christ. From that point on the growth process begins. We learn how to deal with the ups and downs of an earthly life from God’s word, the Bible. The new nature is fed and empowered by what we learn there. Without the nurturing of of God’s truths, our spirit will grow weak and the old nature will gain strength.

With or Without?

Without the Holy Spirit we don’t have a check on our attitudes, actions, choices. What influences our lives is determined by the predominate philosophy of our culture, and that is always changing. Without the Holy Spirit we won’t be able to understand and/or apply the truths of Scripture. We won’t even be interested in God and His Word. Therefore, we will be ignorant of the manipulation and deception of the enemy. Finally, the main thing we will be without is the promise of Heaven.

Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”

With the Holy Spirit we have a check on our attitudes, actions, and choices. What will influence our lives is determined by the never changing truths of God’s word, the Bible. We will have a desire to dig into God’s word so we will grow spiritually strong and be equipped to handle the trials of life. We will learn from God’s word about the enemy and how to resist his manipulation and deception. Finally, with the Holy Spirit we will be assured of the promise of Heaven. 

Where are we headed?

Jesus will return for His church before His 2nd coming. The Rapture, as it is called, is when Jesus will miraculously take to heaven all those who have come to know Jesus as their Savior. This is an event that could happen at any time. Will we be ready?

Or if our departure from this world takes place before Jesus comes for His church, what will be our destination?

In the meantime, what are we to do while we wait?

In the physical world we know that by exercising our muscles to do hard things, we grow stronger. It’s the same in the spiritual world. Life in this world is fraught with problems, things that are hard to deal with. And for those who have been through tough times, because of what we’ve learned from God’s word, we will endure.

It is having to depend upon God and what He teaches us in His word, that keeps us from being overwhelmed by the troubles of this world. It is in God’s word where our enemy, Satan, is exposed. It’s where we learn how to wage war against him.

Spending time with God in His word and in prayer, teaches us how to live life and develop endurance for the trials that come our way. It teaches us the perspective we should have about things like the pandemic and the political turmoil our country finds herself in. It helps us make sense out of the personal and family problems we endure and lights our way to move forward, without destroying the relationships around us. Satan would use those same trials to alienate us from friends and family. God’s plan is to work it out for our good and then some.

Why would we go to any other source when God’s ways bring peace, strength, restoration, joy and, yes. even long-lasting happiness.

From Jesus’s teachings we learn this earth is not our permanent home, heaven is. Earth is where we make preparation to get there. There is a question that must not be left unanswered. Where will we go when we leave this earth?

Love in its purest form!

4Love is patient, love is kind.

Love does not envy,

is not boastful, is not conceited,

does not act improperly,

is not selfish, is not provoked,

and does not keep a record of wrongs.

Love finds no joy in unrighteousness

but rejoices in the truth.

It bears all things, believes all things,

hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Paul’s purpose in writing the above verses was to illustrate what true love looked like. It would do us all well to study this chapter and in particular verses 4-7, in order to possess a clear picture of true love. And if we desire to have a visual of something on earth that comes the closest in comparison, we need look no further than a Mother’s love.

Consider a Mother’s love as it compares to the above description. Does it express the heart of this biblical description? Anytime, pleasing self take priority above the object of our love, we are not loving with a pure love.

But thanks for the unchangeable word of God, we will always have sources to go to when our vision of true love becomes blurred. That clear source of a Mother whose love for their children reflects the love God has for them as defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 will always reflect love in its purest form here on earth.

The Salvation of Deep Roots

This is an old Cottonwood tree precariously perched on the bank of a creek near our house. While its roots are somewhat exposed on the creek side, it must have deep roots on the opposite side accounting for its tenacity. Otherwise, it would be going the way of many of its friends.

As I stood there on the bank opposite of this massive tree, a thought came to me. Though the creek’s water was seemingly insignificant compared to the giant perched on its bank, it contained a deceptive power to fell that tree. Lying within the deep ravine cut by that stubborn little creek were the Cottonwood’s friends. Friends who had been overcome by the deceptive and manipulative motion of water cutting away at the soil around them. Eventually, the day came when their roots had nothing solid to cling to. That small unrelenting rush of water held by the creek had claimed another victim.

There are forces at work in our lives today that take on the character of the deceptive water’s of that creek. We hardly notice the destruction they cause until after the damage is done. For some this realization comes too late. For others only the mightier hand of God can prevail against it.

It’s time we wake up! Take notice of those who have fallen. Seek God’s wisdom that exposes their folly. Call upon our Creator to sink the roots of our faith so deep that the forces seeking to destroy us will have to turn in another direction. Setting an example for those who would take notice of God’s power that prevents the waters from overwhelming us!

GOD’S REASSURING VOICE

Recently God walked me through a time of crises. A coup, in the country where my son and his family lived, had created a threatening environment for them. When the coup started it was uncertain as to whether they were going to leave or ride it out. The day I talked to my son, I could hear the uncertainty in his voice. As his mom, I found this very unsettling. But when the demonstrations began and the gun shots could be heard all around, my son’s advisors urged him to leave as soon as possible. Because they were to fly out on a commercial flight they had to first be tested for covid. Only if their tests were negative, would they be allowed to board the plane. But after this decision was made and he called to tell us of their plan, hearing the determination in his voice settled my mind. Now they had a plan, now they could move forward. They finally were able to board a plane and arrived several hours later, with basic necessities packed, to a safer place.

Worry and fear stood hand in hand poised and ready to defeat me. Therefore, I had a choice to make. I was either going to call upon what I knew to be true about God and His ways or I was going to suffer defeat.

Over time God had been preparing and equipping me for such a time as this. Struggle by struggle over the years, God has been training me to distinguish between His voice, the voice of my sinful nature, and the manipulation and deception of the enemy.

You wouldn’t believe, then maybe you would, how many times the temptation to fear and worry reached out to take control of my thoughts. Yet because of what I had earlier learned, God reminded me that He had not given me the spirit of fear but of power, love, and a strong mind. He whispered to my mind that I was not to worry about anything but in everything through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, I was to make my requests made known to Him. Then the peace that passes all understanding would guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. These truths formed the prayer request I sent out to family and friends.

  • -Pray for safety in getting to the airport (Prov. 29:25)
  • -Pray for freedom from fear so their actions and attitudes proceed from a sound mine. (2 Tim 1:7)
  • -Pray for wisdom for my son and daughter in law as they parent through this ordeal (1 Corinthians 16:13)
  • -Pray no weapon formed against them will prosper. Isaiah 54:17 
  • -Pray for complete trust in the Lord. Proverbs 3:5-6

That’s just a sampling of the weapons with which God supplied me as I rejected the thoughts of fear and worry. The choice I had to make was to either believe God or be victimized by the enemy. While I didn’t know the details of God’s plan, I did know that because I was praying (as well as thousands of prayer warriors from all over the world) God was working on it.

I am no super saint, but through years of training on how to connect God’s word to the struggles I faced, His familiar voice was loud and clear as He guided me through this recent crises. There was no fear. There was no worry. Just a sober calmness as I listened to God’s reassuring voice.

Life? Peace? Truth?

     

     There was a day when it was relatively easy to be a Christian. But that’s not true any longer. And I believe that is a good thing. When it is easy to be a Christian, you don’t need to count the cost. Why? Because claiming we are Christian cost us very little. We grow apathetic. Much of the attacks on our Christian way of life happen without our even noticing. By the time we do notice, the job to reclaim our way of life seems overwhelming.

     It’s apparent with the pandemic, the governmental opposition to our judo-christian values, the loss of respect our country has experienced on the world’s stage that something is terribly wrong. Christianity is condemned at every turn. False assumptions and human reasoning about anything Christian, rules the day. Peace is in short supply. Life grows less valuable by the day and truth become unrecognizable. 

     Yet, I’m pretty sure that when things get bad enough, people will begin realizing that they have mislabeled right and wrong! When they get their fill of violence, anger, deception, and manipulation, they will begin an earnest search for life, peace, and truth. And since they have exhausted a search for such within their own current philosophies, they will turn to find life, peace, and truth right where they left it, at the foot of the Cross. 

                                                                     

Man walking to a cross and kneeling before it.

 

Moving forward though trials persist

   

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Trials and Temptations

     2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

    Once we grasp the truth that God has a plan for our lives, (and that hopefully happens early on) we begin to move forward in that plan. As we exercise our faith muscles, our faith increases in strength. The more mature our faith grows, the wiser we become.  The expectation is that we would move forward consistently as our faith develops. 

     Our new nature, given to us at our spiritual birth, desires to please God. Yet, we will always struggle with our old nature always wanting its way.  Trials come and trials go, but with every one our character is improved upon. 

     But what about those trials that refuse to ‘go away’? They perhaps contain the strongest of life lessons.  You know, those every day trials that prevent us from living life victoriously. 

     Trials of this nature usually involve learning how to get along with others.  Nothing we say or do brings improvement in them or the relationship. Instead of growing wiser and resolving the situation, despair sets in. Satan manipulates and deceives our flesh, our old nature. Lying to us about what is wrong and setting our focus on ourselves. 

     We are primed to become distracted by human reasoning and false assumptions. Without realizing it, we have become influenced by Satan to do his will.   We get mired down in these kinds of trials with every lie cast upon us by the enemy. We take on the attitude that nothing is going to change and spiritual growth and/or pleasing God fades into the mist. Blindness rules on both sides of the equation.

     Perhaps accepting things the way they are in these situations may be the best way to move forward through them. By moving on we leave it up to God to make changes in His timing and will. Forgiving and accepting permits us to throw off the shackles of judgement and condemnation. The liberty to breathe free is ours to claim by the power of God’s word. This sort of example, is a lifeline for those  searching for comfort in their own stubborn trials .

     So, when trials persist without bringing the desired solution, there is still a way to move forward. Moving forward is possible but it takes a mindset that requires a high level of trust in God. A trust that even though the desired solution has not been realized, our confidence that God is in control and is working out His plan remains steadfast.

 Remember: God’s ways are not our ways, His thoughts are higher than ours.

He ALWAYS knows what is best.

Weathering the storms…

    peter-sinking

 

     The years 2020 & 2021 have completely upended our lives! We have been challenged to seek solutions to problems that are unprecedented.  Our days are interspersed with highs and lows. Nothing seems constant. And just when we think we can breathe easy, pow!  Suddenly, we are knocked off our feet again!!!!

     Trying to live life under these circumstances with any measure of victory is humanly impossible. As Christians many are looking to us (whether they or we realize it or not) watching for any clue as to how to stay afloat as the storms rage.

     We know to cry out to the LORD but I wonder how long do we wait around to hear His voice? If He doesn’t remove the problem, bring the healing we ask for, or miraculously intervene to make everything better, we throw up our hands in despair. 

     I’m learning that when it gets this rough, there are choices we can make that will rebuff the enemy and strengthen our witness. First of all, we need to examine our expectations. Do we really think that being a child of God’s means we will know nothing but blessings? Suffering will be minimal and problems will be easily resolved? Do you know any Christian whose life can be described as such? I sure don’t!

   The fiery darts’ intent is cause us to feel abandoned by God, feel overwhelmed by our problems, or wander around aimlessly when we fail to understand why God allows us to suffer.  By focusing on negative thoughts such as these, the truths of James 1:2-4 are hidden from our view. We are of little help to ourselves or to others. 

     If God removed every problem, healed every sickness, or never allowed us to suffer what would that accomplish? Satan doesn’t want us to consider that question. For he knows that solutions are never realized unless there is a problem  to resolve. It is in the exertion of muscles that increases strength.  A diamond becomes a precious jewel due to intense and lengthy pressure. Satan doesn’t want us exercising our faith muscles. We might get too strong for him, if we do!

Here’s the point:

     Like Peter, we will sink when we allow the storms of our days to overtake us. Cooperating with God as He protects and strengthens our witness through the storms will be a lifeline to others to weather their present tempest. 

The Cross – God’s plan to save humankind; Satan’s plan to destroy humankind

 

 

Good Friday, is aptly entitled! Know why? Jesus’s sacrifice for humankind sets every one, who believes in Christ and accepts Him as their Savior, on the path to heaven. Certainly, that is Good News! The cross and resurrection affirm that. 

But there is a lion (a desperate, hungry lion) roaming about seeking whom he may devour.  His diabolical deception and manipulation have set humankind on a path of destruction. His evil influence will attempt to convince us that God does not exist. Jesus was just a man, if he existed at all. Believing the Bible is for fools who desire to believe in myths and fairy tales. Or, this is a strong one; Go ahead and believe in God if you like, but don’t take Him seriously enough to pray and read His word every day. (The Bible exposes Satan and clues us in on how to defeat him. It’s no surprise as to why he is going to make sure you never have the time or desire to delve into God’s word or pray!)

Satan exerted powerful energy to block Jesus from becoming the Savior of the world. If you follow the close calls that if carried out would have destroyed the promised seed-line, it’s obvious God’s power thwarted Satan at every hand. At Jesus’s birth, Satan lunged forward in a failed attempt to kill boy babies that would have been around 2 years of age. The time the wise men told Herod they had been following the star. When that plan was thwarted, Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. That failed miserably as Jesus called on the power of the truth of God’s word to rebuff Satan at every turn.  

Satan likely thought Jesus’ death on the cross was proof that he had won. Imagine his surprise when the resurrection scene exploded! Satan’s pride and bloodthirstiness to destroy Christ, likely blinded him from understanding or even knowing of God’s plan of redemption. 

Make no mistake, Satan is out to destroy us! God’s plan is to save us. Yet, we must choose which plan we are going to cooperate with. Please ponder this!