By His Grace

Posts Tagged ‘self discipline

TRUST IN THE LORD

God has pulled me through so many difficult circumstances in my life I can not count. And yet, I still struggle with worry and fear. When a situation comes into my life that is unpleasant, I instantly feel that sicky feeling in my stomach and my heart races. I really don’t like this about myself and this problem is probably what I want to change most about myself today.

My faith in God has certainty strengthened through the years. He has done tremendous works in my life. In hindsight, I see extraordinary circumstances that just seemed to work out for the better without much of my doing. It was most certainly God working good in my life.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)

Have you ever thought just how busy God is making everything work together for our good? Look at all the mistakes we make. Look at the mess we can make in our lives from sinning. And yet God always comes through for us. Granted, God’s timing is not our timing. Sometimes God works quickly to resolve our problems, and sometimes He works slowly. Very slowly. It is during these slow processes that our faith is tested.

But my issue is with my FIRST response to unpleasant news. I do eventually calm down after a few minutes and start to pray for His help. I ask for comfort and the strength to endure. And I also pray to help me trust Him. The frustrating part is that I DO trust Him! And yet my someday-ahia-b (300x199)first response is fear and worry. I don’t get it. How do I change this about myself? Am I just built this way? God has changed so much about my life and my way of thinking, but this part of me hasn’t changed. I am aware that the difficulties that arise in my life are definitely coming from when I chose to go outside of God’s Will.

Awareness of where my problems start is one thing. I guess that can count for something. But awareness does nothing if not followed by practicing faith in God’s promises and what He says in His Word.

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully”. 1 Peter 5:7 (AMP)

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

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Find-the-joy-of-the-lord

I think if you ask just about any person what they want most out of life, their answer will be, “I just want to be happy”.   Sure some will say they want to be “rich”.  But that answer actually just means they think being rich will make them happy.   I know as a parent, what we want most for our children is for them to be happy no matter what they choose for their life.  If our children are happy, then we as parents are more relaxed, less worried about them and well….happier ourselves too.

“You are being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might, so that you might patiently endure everything with joy.”  Colossians 1:11 (ISV)

The apostle Paul prayed for the Colossians that they may endure every circumstance with joy.  I believe Paul also used this prayer in his own life as well.  Paul went through horrendous circumstances during his ministry.  The average man could never have endured what Paul went through but Paul was strengthened by God’s mighty power and dedicated himself to preaching the Good News of Christ no matter what the outcome.  This same mighty power of God in available to us today!  The apostle Paul is really no different than you and me.  He started out a sinner, just like us.  In fact, Paul sin’s before turning his life over to Christ, included murder, extortion and severe brutality toward Christians.

There is a saying that “a grateful heart is a joyful heart”.  But what about the little things that creep up in our daily lives that make us think “this really stinks” followed by a big sigh and a slumping of our shoulders?  I’d like to share with you a personal experience I had.  I wasn’t happy in my last job.  I am a server and I didn’t like a lot of the clientele that came into the restaurant.  I would find myself thinking of these people as “bottom of the barrel”.  But mostly people were just plain cheap.  Didn’t they realize I have rent to pay?  My thoughts were all backwards about this situation at work.  I was basing my happiness on what each table was tipping me.  So I would be happy for this table but then unhappy with that table.  It was constant up and down happiness my entire shift.  It got to a point where I really hated my job and the atmosphere of this restaurant.  I hated the hours and how exhausted I was every night.  I would ask God numerous times throughout every shift to please get me out of this job!  Please open a door and give me another job, please!

The Holy Spirit spoke loud and clear to me one night.  He told me, “Michele, you are praying the wrong prayer.”  I didn’t understand at first but then another inner tug and I heard it again, “Michele, you are praying the wrong prayer.  God is not going to give you another job until you figure out how to have joy with this one.”  BAM!  I stood frozen for a minute and said to myself, “Wow, you’re right.  Why would God give me another job to complain about?  If I can’t find joy in this somehow I am going to be stuck here for a long time until I pass this test.”

So I started fervently praying for God to give me the strength to endure this job with joy. I  prayed this prayer constantly and practiced with success and error.   In about 2 weeks time, God opened another door and gave me a new job.  I didn’t even have to interview for this job.  It was that easy.  It’s a nicer restaurant, better clientele and bigger tips.

The Lord wants us to find joy in our trials.  He wants us to find peace in suffering.  He wants us to be happy!  When God opened the door I needed, I thought to myself, “Stop being miserable, God is on your side.  You are not alone in anything.”

I ask for God to help you in your sufferings and for Him to show you that you can find happiness and joy no matter what our daily circumstances.  Ask God to keep you sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance and to help you endure all things with strength and joy.

When I think of someone being “emotional”, I picture in my mind a female crying.  To think of the Holy Spirit as being emotional is a totally different story.  But it’s true, He has emotions.

The Bible tells us that we are capable of grieving the Holy Spirit.  To grieve means a deep mental suffering, usually done alone and in silence.  To mourn is more of an outward display of sorrow but grieving is done inwardly.

“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30

Grieving is an emotion.  Sorrow is an emotion.  Grieving the Holy Spirit by what we say or do is a big deal.  It’s not like just simply hurting someone’s feelings.

The Holy Spirit can be grieved when:

  • we return to the things from which we should have been set free
  • we don’t forgive others
  • we hold onto bitterness and resentment

The Bible also talks about “quenching” the Holy Spirit.  This means “restricting” the Holy Spirit.  We can restrict the Holy Spirit by not doing the things we are suppose to do.  For example,  instead of thanking God, we are ungrateful and question what God is doing.

What are some of the things the Holy Spirit does for us?

~ He gives us assurance of our salvation.  If we have grieved or quenched the Holy Spirit, we won’t feel close to God and may begin doubting our salvation.

~ He teaches us and helps us remember Scripture.

~ He leads us into holiness and moral living.  If the Holy Spirit is restricted then fleshly desires will be more evident.

~ He produces fruit in our lives, such as  love, joy, peace, kindness, etc.  Grieving or quenching the Holy Spirit will produce just the opposite.

~ He reveals the deep things of God to us.

~ He comforts us.

~ He intercedes for us in prayer.

I know when I grieve the Holy Spirit I can feel it.  It doesn’t feel good.  It’s like an aching in the middle of my chest.  The best thing to do is pray and repent of my sins.  And after that, not continue in the very sins I was asking forgiveness for.

“If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].”  1 John 1:9

I want to share with you an experience I had that involves how God empowers us and guides us in our daily life.

Recently, I was promoted to the assistant manager position at my job.  I have only worked there for 2 months and by being quickly promoted, it had me both excited and scared.  My confidence level needs much improvement though.  In fact, I almost didn’t accept the position because I was really psyching myself out.  I was allowing Satan way too much time in my thoughts and almost worked myself into a panic attack.  I was questioning whether God really gave me this job or was it my own will taking over.  Satan had me questioning everything and I was obsessing over it.  I was stressed to say the least.

Most of you know my past and the bad choices I have made in my life.  My struggle with addiction and years of verbal abuse all play a part in how I feel about myself and my abilities.

Yesterday was my first day running the store by myself.  I had a staff of 7 and it was important for me to not only keep everything running smoothly but I also had the strain of having to cut people early due to high labor costs earlier in the week.  We have a couple employees who are “high maintenance”.  You have to constantly watch them and stay on them to do their job.  This alone is very stressful.

As soon as I walked in, there were problems.  Running this store is like a machine.  If all the parts aren’t working properly, it quickly falls apart and it can be difficult to recover.  So if one of the employees is lacking, it affects the whole thing.  Five minutes after I walked in I said softly out loud, “God you have to help me.”

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:31

No matter what problem was put in front of me and needed my attention and/or leadership, I remained calm and focused.  I handled things without getting upset or freaking myself out.  I was able to solve any problems that came up and from what I could tell, customers appeared happy with the service.  The day wasn’t perfect and we did have a few customers who got upset but I was able to resolve any issues and make them happy before they left.

God gets all the credit!

This had nothing to do with me.  God was with me totally and it was all Him.  Our lives can get so busy that we don’t always realize just how much God does for us on a daily basis.  We don’t see just how much God is in control and faithfully loves us and guides us 24 hours at a time.

I encourage all of you to take a few moments today and reflect on how God works in your daily life.  Ask Him to reveal the “little things” that we so often miss.  And remember that by humbling ourselves to Him, He empowers us to do things that we normally couldn’t do if left up to our own will.

How did Jesus do it?  Jesus was criticized and insulted but never returned insult for insult.  The witness of Jesus tells us to return evil with good.  Be slow to anger.  Turn the other cheek.

“A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.” (Proverbs 12:16)

Where do we draw the line of being insulted by another person and turning the other cheek?  When do we stand up for ourselves?  How many times can we really just turn the other cheek before saying something in our defense?

There is a person in my life that always seems to “get a jab at me” every time we have a conversation.  This is a person that I have hurt from my past actions.  This person has also hurt me.  I have truly forgiven them.  I really have.  I have asked forgiveness for my sharpness and overreaction.  I’m ready to let it go.  I AM capable of forgiveness.  I believe God has blessed me with incredible patience and the ability to forgive.  In my past, I had an ex-boyfriend who grabbed me by my hair, put a gun to my head & shoved me down into an execution type stature.  I even forgave him (and got a permanent restraining order). 

So even though I have hurt this person in my life and it may be justifiable reactions to my past behavior, they still throw an insult at me in a passive aggressive way even though I have changed my life and don’t behave in that manner anymore.  It doesn’t matter how well I am doing.  It doesn’t matter how far I’ve come, I still get that “dig” at least once every time we are around each other.  I get so upset!  I get very defensive.  I get tired of having to stick up for myself.  Yes, I insulted this person last night.  My past was being thrown in my face and in a vulgar manner.  I kept my cool at first, and then I started yelling and verbally did not behave as a Christian nor as a lady.  I asked God to forgive me.  Even though what I said back to them was all true, I did say it in a manner unbecoming.

“Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.” (James 3:10)

I’m not going to blame my behavior as “just being human”.  I REALLY want to be able to control my tongue, no matter how terrible I’m being treated.  Will I ever perfect this area in my life?  I sure hope so.  I will just have to keep trying or maybe I just need to choose better friends & end this particular one.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:9 AMP)

The Bible promises Christians a sound mind.  Mental illness, personality disorders and any form of psychological damage may result from childhood trauma, domestic abuse, demonic activity or disobedience to God (Deut. 28:15,28).  Thoughts are jumbled, chaotic and there is an inner turmoil that feels like torture.  A chemical imbalance in the brain can cause mood swings, aggression and depression.  Sometimes medication is needed.  Sometimes therapy, one-on-one counseling or a support group is needed.  But one thing for sure, CHRIST IS NEEDED!

I believe for some people that going to professional secular help is necessary.  It was for me.  Equally important is help from our pastor and keeping a biblical perspective about our emotions and thoughts.  God desires us to be whole.  This would involve every aspect of our life—spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

So how do you get to that point of healing?  Healing is certainly a process.  It can be an ongoing thing, but I also experienced an “instant” healing that changed my life!  I have a earlier post titled The Freedom Of Forgiving Myself .  I will tell you…..I am a hard case.   I don’t know why that is and I wish I wasn’t like this because I could have saved myself from years and years of hardship and suffering if I would have just listened and obeyed!! 

I’m one of those who has to experience everything for myself all the way down to rock bottom before I say “okay, maybe you’re right”.  And in the meantime, I become a self-hater, self-loathing, never understanding why I do the things I do or why I WANT to do the things I do.  Blaming others doesn’t work.  Feeling sorry for myself doesn’t work.  But God’s grace does work!!!

And you know, bottom line is this…..it doesn’t matter what others think you should do or how you do it, or what you do to get well, or how you do it to get well.  What matters is the connection between myself and God.  God is the only One who knows my heart.   He is the only One who knows what I need and how I need it.  So in a sense, for me, being healed and restored involved me being selfish and not letting anything or anyone influence me in the process.  It’s between me and God.  And if my heart is aligned with His heart and my thoughts are aligned with His thoughts, then I am living on purpose and according to His will.

So the healing begins by allowing myself to forgive myself.  To allow myself to put my foot down and say, “this is what I have to do to help me.”  It may seem very self-centered and selfish to those looking from the outside.  But let me reassure you, that once I was able to forgive myself and allow Christ to heal my inner being, I came out a better person and a more likable person.  This opened the doorway for me to get well and stay well for longer periods of time.

I certainly haven’t perfected this whole sobriety thing, but I’m much healthier mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I understand now what God means when He says He wants us to be made “whole”.  And in this wholeness I found inner joy and peace.  I know that God has healed me from the guilt and shame I carried because I am able to open my eyes to things I couldn’t see before.   He has opened my heart to things I haven’t felt before.  He has opened my ears to things I haven’t heard before.  Because of what Christ did for me on the cross, I can be healed and restored.

Kutless – That’s What Faith Can Do

How easy it is for us to disillusion ourselves.  We can fool ourselves into thinking just about anything.  As for myself, I could be an expert in this area of self-delusion.  If it weren’t for the Word of God, I probably would still be in this dangerous state of mind.  Our mind is the devil’s playground and he is very crafty in that he can make something we know to be wrong seem not so bad and will give us a sense of peace and contentment if we just give into the temptation.  But as our life experiences have shown, this attitude usually leads to disappointment over and over again.

Just look at the events of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  These people were disillusioned into thinking they were doing God’s will.  The Mayan culture believe the world will come to an end in December 2012.  And probably the most often used delusion is that “if only I were rich, then I would be happy”.  Sure, more money certainly makes our life more enjoyable and has the capacity to alleviate an enormous amount of stress, but to be truly happy doesn’t come from that one big bundle of dollars we would like to have.  In fact, that big sack of money we desire may never come to pass in this life time.  So what do we do in the meantime? Obsess over it?  Become workaholics and have our family life suffer because we are never home and just out there to make money night and day?.   There has got be more to life that that.  And I believe there is!  The answer for that is simply in Christ Jesus.

Now don’t get me wrong.  As Christians, we have to play our part in how successful or non-successful our life will be.  The tricky part is just where does that line cross from Jesus stepping into help and when we should hold back, be patient, and wait on the Lord? Have you ever felt that by waiting that you feel a sense of laziness?  Is that a delusion of what “waiting” really is or are we being obedient by His Word?  That we should be doing more to make things happen in our lives and take certain risks?  Where is the balance?  Where do we draw that line?  I too struggle with this.

I have a distant friend who helped me tremendously in getting my life back on track and away from the lifestyle of drugs and alcohol.  I envied that faith she had.  She never worried about anything.  But the thing is, the more I became privy to her personal life and the situations going on in her life, I started to wonder just how she keeps such a non-chalant way of thinking that God will take care of everything.  Is this faith?  Self-delusion? Laziness?

Let me explain, she and her husband had foreclosed on 3 different houses within 3 years and it never seemed to faze her in the least (and her parents, who were pastors, seemed to have the same pattern).  She just went through the flow of the whole legal process of foreclosure knowing God will provide them another home.  And God always did, or was that a delusion or just poor money management on their part?

I guess my question would be this……..What is our part in making things happen in our lives and what is God’s part? I would love to hear back from my readers what their opinion is on this and possible give some examples that you have experienced.


A little about me........my name is Michele and I am a born-again Christian. I was saved as a teenager and graduated from a Christian high school. I am a mother of one son who is the world to me. Despite my upbringing, later in life I fell into a life of self destruction which led me down many dark paths. I am a recovering addict and alcoholic and I have a great passion for Christ and His amazing power to heal even the worst cases. I am living proof of the miracle of God's power to change your life and way of thinking. Nothing is impossible with God.

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