As I expected, with the weeks marching by, I am thinking less about this year's theme word, OPEN. I am thankful for the huge sign in the kitchen to remind me, and more thankful to the Spirit for His kindness in reminding me now and then. Sometimes it is so frustrating, living in a finite body with a finite mind and a sinful nature so close at hand, isn't it? I look forward to the timelessness of heaven and the beauty of a heart focused only on my Lord, no longer constantly at battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil.
But for now, here we dwell. Here, we are in the crucible of transformation, learning to live by faith in joy and sorrow, ease and trial, in preparation for an eternity of bliss.
One great trial and challenge is the number of voices we hear every day in our heads, luring us in different directions, whispering to us about our worthlessness and how unlovable we are, chiding us with guilt and insecurity, leaving us hopeless, afraid, and defeated.
Do you hear this cacophony of voices day-in and day-out like I do?
For our book study this week, we read and discussed chapter three of Sally Clarkson's book, Own Your Life. The chapter is titled, Listening to New Voices, Owning Your True Identity. It was such a relief to sit in a room with a bunch of other ladies and hear how damaging, lying voices have and do effect the way we think about ourselves and how we make decisions. We are not alone! But, even better, it was balm for our souls to be reminded of the ONE VOICE we should be listening to and how gentle, loving, kind, and patient He is compared to the demanding, condemning, shaming voices that constantly ring in our ears.
Sally shared several verses in the reflection section at the end of the chapter: Jeremiah 31:3, Romans 8:1, and 2 Corinthians 5:17, which I've posted below.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
And she issued this challenge, which I am trying to be OPEN to: at the beginning of each day, spend at least a couple of minutes acknowledging the newness of life that [God] provides for you. Every morning, regardless of what has happened the day before or way back in the past, in Christ you walk, (I walk, all God's people walk), in newness of life. Every day! The old has gone, the new has come.
That is true truth about your identity. Doesn't it make you want to walk with your head held high, loving God and your neighbor with greater passion and devotion?
Man, I want to be OPEN to listening to the sweet voice of my loving Shepherd, and OPEN to boldly telling the other voices to be gone! It is going to take a lot of practice....
Time to take action: What voices are you listening to and letting define you or, worse, defeat you? The worst voices are the ones with a little bit of truth in them, but that are still big fat lies! Are you tossed and beaten down by the voices? Listen, dear friend,
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
If you belong to God, you are a new creation! His voice does not condemn. His Spirit may convict us of sin, but will not shame us.
Will you join me in meditating on Romans 8:1 and 2 Corinthians 5:17? Stop right now and rejoice in the Lord, saying The old has gone, the new is here, right now! I have been made new. Thank you, Jesus! Confess your sin of listening to the voices rather than to God's sweet, still voice. Be assured He forgives you. And walk today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, in newness of life.
I wonder how OPENNESS to true truth will transform us, our families, and our neighborhoods! Oh, let's find out by listening to the Shepherd's voice, rather than the thieves and the robbers.
“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” John 10:1-5