Here's the intro to the 'Open for 2015' series, if you'd like to know what it's all about.
Today I have to come clean about a couple of my thought habits, patterns I can keep hidden from the world because they dwell in the realm of my mind. It is very fortunate that others cannot read our minds, don't you think? And yet, if we don't share about how sin wars within us and tries to claim us, several detrimental things can happen. First of all, we may never make any progress against it. The sinful thought pattern which dissolves our joy and drains our hope will continue its reign of terror in us. Secondly, we miss opportunities to love and support one another in the Church. We risk carrying on thinking that others are doing just fine and we are the only ones experiencing the difficulty of living in the 'now and not yet'. It sure is lonely; we're all sitting in the pews next to each other, lonely. And finally, we rob the Lord of opportunities to be glorified! For if we, in the Church, are talking about our struggles with sin and encouraging and admonishing one another as to how to trust in the Lord and find our freedom and forgiveness in Him, He certainly is glorified as we come together in unity and can bear witness to His redemptive work in us. I hope that by sharing a little about my week you will find courage and hope to believe you can be transformed, find companionship, and glorify God.
A few things happened this week that made me happy for my friends: I learned that one of them got to take a trip to Disney World with her family recently; another bought a motor home for their family to travel; and a small group of my friends got to support another woman in a time of need. These are all super great things, right? I was so glad to know these events were going on!
Then quick as lightning, in all of these things jealousy and discontentment barged their ways into my heart! I wanted to go on a vacation. I wanted to take an awesome road trip. I wanted the freedom to be with that group of ladies. Friends, I didn't even have to think about it. One moment, rejoicing, the next moment, me, me me! Mind-sin works like that, doesn't it? I believe these moments are when we get a real feel for what that whole "sinful nature" thing in Scripture is about. I didn't have time to pause and think, "sin was just right there with me." Such a good friend to stick by us ... ugh! I would like to tell you this is the first time this has ever happened to me. But, alas, that would not be true. Even from childhood, envy and discontentment have been close companions.
But there is hope! In these moments, when sin is poised to run us through with his spear of envy, discontentment, rage, lust, fear, unbelief, or whatever the moment's poison would be, WE ARE NOT HELPLESS! Christians belong to the Lord; the Spirit lives in us and we are new creations, whether we feel like it or not. We can be OPEN to turning to God's way, even if it feels like we'll never change and we'll always be stuck in the same sin ruts.
For me this week, the Lord has had me thinking about being OPEN to contentment. For the truth is, while (like a brat) I thought, man, I want to go on vacation too, and have a cool motor home, and have a life that frees me to be available, I was happy for my friends and am objectively content with my current life. The evil one just wanted to derail me so I would forget the goodness of God, fix my eyes on what I couldn't have, forget to pray for urgent needs, and pursue my own glory.
Oh, thanks be to God that He puts His Spirit in us. Right in those lighting-strike-sin moments we can equally as quickly turn back to God, seek His forgiveness, and ask for His strength not to run down the road of discontentment, darkness, and death, but rather to run to contentment, light, and life. He is the provider, the light of the world, and the source of life!
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
I Timothy 6:6
Time to take action: I do pray that this resonates with many of you and that you take heart in knowing that the Lord is near. He is near! He lives IN you! Do not lose heart. That is maybe satan's the primary goal, that we lose heart and choose unbelief. It irritates him when we believe God! So I guess today, be OPEN to contentment in the Lord. The moment sin creeps in, stop and remind your sin that you belong to the Lord and your heart is off limits to anyone but Him! One other thing you might want to do is confide in a friend and ask them to join you in prayer for continued transformation by the Holy Spirit in specific areas of personal struggle. We need the Lord and we need each other!
May God bless you today.