Learning Soul Freedom

Packing and the busyness of getting ready to move has me behind in my writing. But even in the craze of throwing away, recycling, giving away, and packing up, it seems the Lord has lessons for me.

My Recalibrate Life read, this month, is not one of the books I originally chose. In fact, I came upon it as I was trying to figure out if I could part with any of my books. It seems I had started the book before, but like so many other books and projects, I didn’t finish it. This month I am reading, The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst.

I picked it up off the bottom shelf, and found the wisdom within the first few chapters to be just what I needed for recalibrating my life. So instead of putting it in a box to give away, I chose it as this month’s read.

Packing up for a move is filled with a never ending list of questions. Do I want this? Do I need this? Have I used it? Will I use it? Is it a duplicate? Where will I keep it? On and on it goes. These are tough questions when it comes to some things, especially if the things are special to you and you want to bring them with, and you want to believe you will use them.

This book is about choices and choosing the best. When we choose our less than best, we actually are giving those things time and space in our lives that should belong to our best yeses. That makes perfect sense to my brain but has proven hard for my heart.

I had the boxes all packed, and there were too many, even I recognized that. I mentioned it to my husband, that I had filled a lot of boxes even after throwing out a lot of stuff and recycling a lot. He wasn’t happy about it.

I had it all figured out, I would use the stuff I packed, I had a plan in mind. And that is when I found this book. How does the Lord do that? Just when you think you have it all figured out, He has a way of rearranging the plan.

I read this sentence at the end of the third chapter, “Don’t get so locked into your overwhelming schedule that you haphazardly spend your soul.” And tears filled my eyes, convicted. I am guilty and have been guilty of this for way too long. Filling my life with too much, overfilled to overwhelmed. Not just my calendar, but my closets too. And it seems that just as I read that sentence, suddenly I realized the Lord had impressed on my heart that I wouldn’t be using those things. The ones all packed in boxes, the ones I had painstakingly gone through at least three or four different times trying to narrow down my choices so as to not have too many boxes. But Lord

It all seems too important to let go of. There are so many precious memories attached. And I could use them in volunteer work. But is that my best yes? I knew it wasn’t. I know what I want, what my goals and focus need to be, and yet I thought I could do this too. I always seem to think adding one more thing won’t be too much. 

So, a couple days passed and I went back to the basement, back to the packed boxes and I emptied out their contents. I repacked much of their contents in other boxes to give away. Giving away my children’s books from teaching felt sad. I told my husband how I felt, each story had a special activity to go with or a sweet memory attached. It feels like giving away a part of my life. He suggested giving them to a soon to be teacher that we knew. She was thrilled, but my heart still feels sad.

Even so I know the Lord is right. I wouldn’t ever have opportunity to use six boxes of children’s books. I kept some of my absolute favorites and I don’t know if I will have any opportiunity to use them, but maybe. For now I want to keep them.

Things not only take up space but they take up time as well. I can see how my soul ends up in bondage to the myriad of choices I reach for. I am seeing how I need to weigh my options more objectively. Letting go is hard but things come along with expectations within our hearts. Ideas of what we could do or should do, and then soon we end up overwhelmed and we haphazardly spend our souls. It is a hard lesson.

How about you? Do you know soul freeedom? Or are you in bondage to too much stuff, and too many chioices? Are you choosing your best yeses? Or are your choices unintentionally leading you to say no to them?

I realize now that is what has been happening with me.  I choose too many things, put too much on the calendar and in the closet and never have enough time for it all. It seems that I have lived like a child at a carnival filling up on cotton candy and caramel corn, wanting to go on all of the rides, and play all of the games. I need to learn from my past in order to choose my best yeses for the future. It is the way of simplicity. I am still learnimg.

I am continuing to read this book and will share more of this recalibrate life journey in my next post. I hope you will join me.

..

Advertisements

Letting Go; Knowing Truth Can Help

 

Living with stress sure causes problems! But how do we let go?

My thoughts pressure me to try to stay in control, to get it all done, to please everyone and gain approval. Yet, when I work hard to make it happen and the outcome isn’t what I hoped for I get frustrated and angry. It seems that it is a vicious cycle, and I am stuck in it like a revolving door.

My recent realization of how my stress is directly related to my need for control has led me to choose to make changes. These changes will not happen overnight, they will take time and practice.

I have been thinking a lot about my control issues, and realize how I am tied up in the temporal, looking for approval of man. Colossians 3:2 AMP says, “Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things] not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value].” The Truths of God’s Word are things from above, and my need for human approval is definitely temporal. I need to fill my mind with His Truth, especially the truths regarding all He gives me. These are things that I miss out on when I am wrongly focused.

The changes I am going to make involve taking the following truths into my heart, and focusing on them throughout my days.

1. First of all, I need to focus on God’s great love. Jeremiah 31:3a AMP, tells us: “The LORD appeared to me (Israel) from ages past, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you… “ When I am feeling like I need to try harder and do more in order to earn love I will think on His everlasting love that does not change or diminish.

2. God also promises us peace of mind and heart in John 14:27 AMP, “Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid.” Yet, even so, I strive and worry and sit here with aching shoulder and neck muscles. When I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed I need to think on the peace He gives. Do you need His peace today for whatever you are struggling with?

Isaiah 26:3 AMP promises us peace as well. Isaiah tells us this about God, “You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You in both inclination and character], because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation]”. When we keep our minds stayed on Him, we will have His peace!

3. I know that I end up in bondage to others as well as to my to-do list and, as their slave, I grow more and more tense and worried, continually striving. Bound to these, I am weighed down and overwhelmed. Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us that because so many have witnessed the truth God’s absolute faithfulness, we can strip ”off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily entangles us” and stripped of these, we can “run with endurance and active persistence the race set before us [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Perfecter of faith, … who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work]”. The Lord has given help to us to run this race of life. We have freedom in Him, the pressure is off. We only have to throw off the weights and run this race free of all that keeps us tethered.

4. The Lord also has given us access to Him in prayer. Hebrews 4:16 AMP tells us: “Therefore, let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without, so that we may receive mercy [ for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment.” I can come to Him, we can come to Him, freely anytime and tell Him about our struggles and trust Him to supply mercy and grace to help us. What do you need to talk with Him about today?

5. The Lord also wants to gift us with joy, peace, and hope; gifts that, like the sun behind dark clouds, are missed or seemingly lost as I focus on the wrong things. Paul tells us about it in a prayer-like verse in Romans 15:13 AMP. This is a favorite verse of mine. It says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you will abound in hope and overflow with confidence in His promises. “ In the midst of our overwhelming lives these are offered to you and me! I want to say,“Yes Lord, bring it on!”

6. And one last verse I want to focus on is James 1:5 AMP. James tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him.” When we are at a loss as to what to do or how to do it we only need to ask the Lord and He will lead us in His wisdom. What a wondrous gift this is! So often, in times of stress we come to a place that we don’t know what to do next, and knowing we have help can really bring relief in times of worry.

Wow, what a list! Looking at these truths I wonder why I get into such bondage and overwhelm. I only need to remember all I have in my Lord. Each one of these verses gives us a way to set our minds on Him to help us take our focus off of the outcome that has us bound in knots.

I realize that what we each need to let go of probably is different, but when we transfer our focus to Him and seek Him for help, we are given exactly what we need to make it through. He helps us let go by leading us to focus on Him and on what we have in Him. He helps us focus on Who He is and what He can do for us and that is what we will be looking at next week.

The tighter I hold on to getting my way or to finding ways to fill my empty, the more frustrated, angry and short-tempered I become. My neck and shoulder muscles continue to tighten as I stress about how I can do everything so I get the response I need. I must turn my focus to Him!

What are you in need letting go of? Maybe you do not realize what is at the bottom of your clutching on so tightly, ask the Lord to show you what it is. He knows why you are feeling (emotionally and physically) the way you do. He knows what you are in bondage to and He wants to deliver you! He wants to deliver me. Ask Him to show you the Truths of His Word that counteract the lies that keep you bound. When you know the truth you shall be free indeed (See John 8:31-32)!

I pray that some of these verses have helped you and that you will join me next week as I share more about letting go!

Growing in Grace through Watching and Praying


We are quickly approaching Easter, and now especially, we should be living mindful of what Jesus did for us and be thinking about the importance of His words.

There in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus tells His disciples to “watch and pray” as He goes on to talk to His Father. A command of three words that are so important and so easily overlooked as we read the account of the days leading up to His death. Watch and pray are not words just for the disciples there with Jesus then but they are words for all of life for each one of us.

We find those words “watch and pray” repeated in many places in the Bible, here are a few:

Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” (Jesus words to the disciples.)

Luke 21:34, 36 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap… Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

Matthew 24:42 “Therefore keep watch because you don’t know on what day your Lord will come.”

1 Peter 4:7 “But the end of all things is at hand, therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. “

Jesus knew the danger for the disciples that night, and He knows the danger that lurks around us in the here-and-now. He wanted His disciples to be watchful, to be alert, with the same kind of vigilance as a guard on night-watch, and He asks the same of us.

1 Peter 5:8 tells us to be vigilant also.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.”

Jesus knows how weak we are, how easily distracted we are, how weary we become. He wants us to be disciplined and focused.

Genesis 4:7 speaks of sin waiting at our door. Temptation can so easily trap us when we are unaware. We fail to see how it lures us and holds us in bondage.

We become distracted:

  • by the things of this world, material things that flash across a screen, or items we see in magazines or even things we see that our neighbors and friends have.
  • by a job, or a relationship that attract us, maybe it’s the money or what we can get from that person.
  • by our personal neediness. We become absorbed in our thoughts and feelings, our needs and wants.

In all of these distractions we lose sight of Him and His will and desires for us.

Satan can so easily lure our attention away and draw us into temptation. It may even be something that may seem “good.” Satan helps us to believe that it can be ours and that it will satisfy us. He may lead us to believe that we deserve it and God just doesn’t love us enough to give it to us.

Jesus knows our weakness. He tells us to be alert so we don’t get caught in that trap. Don’t open the door to the sin waiting on the other side.

We need to watch and while we are being vigilant and on guard we need to also be praying.

Colossians 4:2 tells us, “Devote yourselves to prayer and be watchful.”

We need the Lord to give us strength, to help us endure, we need His presence with us, we need Him to guide us every step of the way in this life here on earth. We need to have a connection with the Lord that is constant so that we may grow in grace.

Prayer is the conduit that we use to call down His power to take effect here on earth. When we remain prayerful our faith is firmed up and we are empowered to resist the devil. Without the Lord we are weak and in grave danger. When we are in connection with the Lord we are able to see the way of right and wrong. We are better able to detect the temptations that come our way and seem so harmless.

The Lord tells us to watch and pray because He loves us and wants us:

  • to keep our hearts pure and apart from being with Him we cannot do that.
  • to wait on Him for His timing so that He can give us His best in each situation.
  • to be filled with peace, to have calmness, to have a quiet spirit.
  • to enter into quiet communion with Him, and declutter our minds so we can be fully present.
  • to give Him what is on our hearts, tell Him our neediness and our desperation.
  • to wait for Him to speak, to give guidance, to encourage, to direct, or to give answer.
  • to wait with our ears open to hear His voice, not distracted by the noise of the world.
  • to pay attention so that nothing may hinder us in our walk with Him.
  • to pray so He can give us daily victory, moment-by-moment.

We have to be intentional, growing in grace takes practice and devoted discipline.

So, once again, as we somberly remember the road to Calvary, let’s also remember to be faithful in watching and praying. It is such an important request from our Savior’s lips and the words are all the more precious because they are said for our safe-keeping and spoken in His amazing love for us.

Oh thank you, Jesus, for Your amazing grace. Empower us Lord to watch and pray. 

Freedom in Grace

Romans 6:14-18 “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under the law but under grace. What then” Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means… But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient form the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and having even set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Do you know the freedom you have in the grace of God?

Grace frees us from the bondage of sin. When we are chained to a sinful life we are slaves to unrighteousness. But when Jesus died on the cross, He offered each of us robes of righteousness. His blood washes away our sin as we confess Him as Lord and Savior. We can be cleansed.

So if we are covered by Jesus righteousness, what does that mean for us? It means freedom, not freedom to do whatever we please but instead it means freedom from slavery to a life of sin. Instead we no have become saves to righteousness. Righteousness meaning rightness with God. When we live in sinfulness, we are not right with God, because God is a holy God and does not tolerate sin. but grace through Jesus blood covers us in righteousness.

Galatians 5: 13 says, “For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve on another through love.”

So, we aren’t to use our freedom to just satisfy our flesh or satisfy our selfish desires. Instead we are to use our freedom to serve each other out of love.

Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:16, “As God’s slaves, Live as free people, but don’t use your freedom as a way to conceal evil.”

We are to use our freedom to serve God. Bother of these verse are saying that we should allow our faith to be the diving force to holy living, to loving others.

It sees that we can see an important correlation here; to the level we understand and know the gracious heart of God is the same level to which we know how our sinful ways measure up against His holiness. And, in knowing that, our hearts should be prompted to live a life that pleases God. Not because we can earn our way to heaven, but because we love Him so much that we desire to please Him by living for Him.

It is in this freedom through grace that we find permission to stop striving.

We have freedom from condemnation. 

Romans 5:1 give us this hope: “Therefore there is now no condemnation from those who are in Christ Jesus.”

We have freedom from sin.

Romans’ 1:22 tells us: “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God the benefit you reap leads to holiness and the result is eternal life.”

We have freedom from fear.

Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive the Spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry, Abba! Father!”

We have freedom from the fear of death.

Hebrews 2:14-15 explains: “Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death–that is, the Devil– and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.”

This is our hope: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. stand firm, then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

We no longer have to live in fear. we are free to rest and trust in God’s love for all of life.

Yer, we so easily become entangled and become slaves to shame, to expectations, and to self-doubt. Do you find yourself in any of those? We are so easily enticed by what we see and want. We have been set free for the purpose of focusing on God’s grace, His love, and His Son Jesus.

 

Are you living free in the grace Christ bought with His blood? Where do you find yourself enslaved? Take time to talk with the Lord about this and ask Him to help you know your freedom in Him.