How Long Does It Take for My Fleshly Passions to Die
I’m often asked, “If I’m a Christian, why do I keep sinning?” If you’ve asked similar questions, I understand. We want to be holy. We want our lives to count for Christ and be vessels through whom His Spirit flows. Galatians 5:24 is a “go to” verse in regard to our flesh. “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.” If you’re scratching your head and silently objecting that the very problem is that your flesh isn’t dead, consider the following. 1. We can’t crucify our flesh. Our flesh would never climb on a cross and nail itself to the wood. Our spirit might be willing, but our sin nature wouldn’t. Our flesh being crucified must be understood in the context of Paul’s words, “those who belong to Christ.” Our fleshly crucifixion took place on Christ’s crucifixion. It is what is called the doctrine of identification. When we place our faith in Christ, we are identified with Him in His death. But what about our daily lives, our daily walk? What about our “passions and desires” being crucified to which Galatians 5:24 refer? If we were to stand at the foot of a cross where someone has been crucified, we would note the following. First, the past tense. The person was crucified. The nails in the person holding the person to the cross – done. They have been crucified. Second, the present tense. They are crucified but still breathing – struggling more at times, but still alive. Third. They are crucified and no longer alive. We follow suit in the analogy of Galatians 5:24. We have the past tense experience of being crucified with Christ in that we identify with Him in His substitutionary crucifixion for our sins. We have the present tense experience. We have been crucified with Christ but are still breathing, alive. Third, we will one day no longer be breathing on earth and will be resurrected to new life with Christ. We struggle with our flesh because although we have been crucified with Christ (past tense), our fleshly passions and desires take a long time to die. A person dying on a cross could use the foot brace to lift themselves up to take a breath and extend their life a few more minutes or hours. Are we lifting our fleshly nature up to give it air? Or, are we refusing to accommodate our flesh when it wants to be lifted and given oxygen? The body takes time to die on a cross. The fleshly nature takes time to die. How much are we helping it live and in what ways? Figure that out and we can accelerate the death of our fleshly passions and desires. Will we?
Heavenly Father, Jesus was the first of the three to die on the cross. Show us how we can accommodate Your will and Spirit rather than give life to our fleshly nature.
Yes or No? When God Doesn’t Answer Our Prayers the Way We Want
I have a question for you. Is it true that whatever we ask in prayer, believing, we will receive? Yes or no? _____ What is your Scripture reference? If you said yes and provided Matthew 21:22 as your source, then why didn’t God answer Jesus’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane? Certainly, Jesus asked in prayer, believing. On a more personal level, why doesn’t God answer the prayers of the faithful to heal their dying loved one? I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I do know that it is important for us to take the whole counsel of God rather than “cherry pick” verses. In the context of prayer, Jesus has already taught His disciples important, foundational principles of prayer in “The Lord’s Prayer.” We have a Father in heaven who alone is holy. He has a kingdom and will. Twice in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus referenced God’s kingdom – at the beginning and end of the prayer. It was clearly on His mind and a central part of His teaching on prayer. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus echoed Matthew 6:10, “Your will be done,” even while He allowed us to hear His “Son of Man” desire to avoid suffering, shame, and separation. As disciples of Christ it is critical for us to study and know the whole counsel of God. In the context of today’s question, we must remember Christ’s foundational teaching on prayer – praying God’s will. First John 5:14-15 is helpful. “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” Can you trust your life and loved ones to God’s will?
Heavenly Father and Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for not only teaching us how to pray but for also modeling it. We love and adore You. Help us be wise stewards of Your word by our words and life.
How Are You?
How are you today? If I asked that in passing, you’d probably say, “Fine. And you?” I might answer, “Fine.” Or, “Doing great!” However, often, we aren’t fine. It’s not that we’re intending to lie when we reply. Rather, it’s a societal politeness. “How are you?” And, “how are you?” With those with whom we’re close, however, we share how we really are. We may say, “I’m sick of quarantining.” Or, “I’m really concerned about…..” If you’re wishing you had someone to confide in, remember that you do. Jesus is more than a God to worship. He’s a God who counts you worthy to die for and most certainly worthy to listen to. When we read in 1 Peter 5:7, “He cares for you,” that’s not a platitude. It’s our Heavenly Father letting us in on a little, no a big secret. Our wonderful Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ care for you. Talk to them. Tell them the secrets of your heart.
Thank You, Heavenly Father and Lord Jesus Christ for caring for us. Thank You that we can talk to you about any and everything. Thank You that You listen and respond. We love you.
What’s Coming Up Behind You
Have you ever been driving and keeping your eyes on the road before you when suddenly a car came up too fast behind you? If so, you probably know the startling feeling and hope that the driver slows down rather than rear-end you. Often, we speak of the Lord leading us, but Isaiah 52:12 also speaks of Him as watching out for our backs. “… the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your REAR GUARD.” In this verse, God is referred to as a rearguard when the Israelites escaped Egyptian bondage. God is also our rear guard. He watches over us, leads us, and not until heaven will we know how many times He’s protected us from encroaching danger and evil. Just as it was important for Moses and the Israelites to pay attention to and follow God’s instructions, it’s important for us to pay attention and follow His instructions. How do His warnings and instructions come to us? In the Bible and the Holy Spirit’s promptings.
Lord, thank You for being our REAR GUARD and for all the ways You watch over us and protect us. How comforting to know You’ve got our back.
When You Face Something Beyond DIFFICULT
Do you ever find something to be beyond difficult? If so, I can relate. I’ve often found myself in “over my head.” I wanted to quit. Many of the things we find difficult are not those we can or should give up on. Our marriage, parenting, families, job, health, church, and friendships all require commitment. When we find them to be difficult, we can remember what Jeremiah 32:17 says, that with God NOTHING IS TOO DIFFICULT. “Ah LORD GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! NOTHING IS TOO DIFFICULT FOR YOU.” This is an incredible reminder. Rather than crater under pressure, we can call on God who “made the heavens and earth by His great power and outstretched arm.” He can help us with whatever we’re facing. We can be assured that with God, NOTHING IS TOO DIFFICULT. Call on Him. Prayerfully record in Prayers of My Heart the things weighing you down that you feel you can’t do. Ask God how to handle them, then record how He guides you in the “Meditations, Notes, and Prayer” section. Date and record your thanks to Him as He walks you through each day.
LORD, NOTHING IS TOO DIFFICULT FOR YOU! Thank You for Your presence and Your power.
Do You Need a Miracle
Do you need a miracle? Something extraordinary in your life? What do we mean when we use the word miracle? Webster defines miracle first and foremost as “a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency; just as rising from the grave.” Another definition is “a highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences;” such as “it was a miracle that more people hadn’t been killed or injured.” Perhaps it’s that last definition we use most often. “It’ll be a miracle if I can manage everything going on in my life.” Or, “It’ll be a miracle if my child can get off drugs.” Or, “It’ll be a miracle if our marriage makes it.” Let me ask again, “Are you in need of a miracle?” If so, our best hope for experiencing one is to bring Jesus into the equation. Galatians 3:5 describes Jesus as the MIRACLE WORKER. “So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and WORKS MIRACLES among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” As we consider Jesus, the Miracle Worker, it’s important to consider the combination of the two words: miracle and work; along with the word “faith.” Our miracle isn’t going to happen with the twitch of our nose as in the 1970’s show “I Dream of Jeannie.” If we study Jesus’s miracles, we see they involved energy and power (Luke 8:46), most often required a person taking part in faith (John 5:8-9), and often took place as the person acted in obedience (John 9:6-7). Maybe Jesus is showing us that rather than demanding, “God, do it now,” we should thank Him for how He has already worked in our lives, thank Him that He hears us, and then take the steps He shows us.
Not Just Any Man
Jesus came to earth as a baby so He might grow into a man, but not just any man. He came from heaven as our MESSIAH. Andrew heard John the Baptist announce that Jesus was the Lamb of God who had come to take away the sins of the world. Andrew followed Jesus and after spending time with Him, went and told his brother, Simon Peter, “We have found the MESSIAH,” John 1:41. Andrew was intentional about his search for the Messiah and after finding Him, was intentional about telling others. What ways can we be more intentional about sharing Christ with others? We can begin by praying for the unsaved to turn to Christ. I label the last column in the Week at a Glance section of Prayers of My Heart: “Unsaved.” What can we pray for those who do not know Christ as Messiah? Here are 8 suggestions.
Jesus Christ, MESSIAH, You are love, forgiveness, hope, peace, and joy! Help us be as Andrew – intentional about following You and telling others about You.
How Not to be a Sourpuss
Are you a sourpuss? You know, grumpy, negative, never satisfied? If so, take your thoughts CAPTIVE to Christ. Pay attention to what you’re thinking. Why? Your thoughts make us who we are. An example: After God opened a way for the Israelites to cross the Red Sea on dry land to escape the Egyptian army, Moses could have said, “Boy, that was close! I don’t know why God let that happen! He about got us killed.” Yes, he could have complained but He chose to instead sing praises to God. “Your right hand, O LORD, is MAJESTIC in power, Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy,” Exodus 15:6. “Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, MAJESTIC in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders?” Exodus 15:11
If we’re a sourpuss and tend to focus on the negative, we’re not doing ourselves or anyone else a favor, including God. As a matter of fact, we’re being a bad showcase of our Majestic Lord. Isn’t it time we change? If you’d like to take your thoughts captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), go right up to the throne room and examine them. Moses isn’t the only one who has a God MAJESTIC in power and holiness. We do, too! Isn’t it time we change our thinking (Philippians 4:8) and talk/act like it?
If you have Prayers of My Heart, turn to the Meditations, Notes, and Prayers section and write words of praise to our Heavenly Father. Do you need prompts? He’s saved you. He forgives your bad behavior. His Word straightens out your wayward thoughts. His Spirit is your downpayment and security of heaven. His grace is new every morning. Do you have a family or friends, a roof over your head, clean water, food, a bed to sleep in at night? Write words of thanks to Him now.
You, O LORD, are MAJESTIC in HOLINESS and POWER! We sing Your praises for all the things You’ve done, are doing, and will do. Help us showcase You by examining our thoughts and praising You for all we have in You.
Wishing Things Were Different?
Are you tired of life as it is? Do you long for things to be different? God understands. He never intended our life to be filled with angst, anxiety, and the consequences of sin. He created Adam and Eve in His image and placed them in a perfect world. He created mankind to share life in and with Him; to live by His divine nature and experience His MAGNIFICENCE. Although we live in a sin sick world that is experiencing the consequences of shutting Him out, our hope is not lost. Rather, our hope is firm in Christ Jesus. After turning from sin and confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior, we must daily meditate on God’s Word. Why is this so important? To keep us emotionally, mentally, and spiritually grounded in truth. Second Peter 1:4 reminds us that God “has granted to us His precious and MAGNIFICIENT promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” We need look no further than the latest news to see the corruption in the world. But that is not our destiny. It is not to be our experience. We, as believers, escape the world’s corruption through the means of Christ’s divine nature operating in accordance with God’s promises. In other words, believers have the joy and privilege of learning Kingdom ways and promises and experiencing them through Christ’s Spirit. At this time in our nation and world, we have a weapon against despair, anxiety, and hopelessness that unbelievers do not have. Begin the morning welcoming your Heavenly Father and praying, “Heavenly Father, thank You for this day. Please fill my spirit with Your Holy divine nature. Help me discern Your ways and walk through my day sensitive to Your voice. Christ, flow Your joy, peace, and love through me to others.” Yes, the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and Bible are MAGNIFICENT. Immerse your mind with your Heavenly Father’s ways. Bath your heart in His promises. Walk by His MAGNIFICENT divine nature and you’ll discover hope in your heart and a smile to share with others.
LORD, You are MAGNIFICENT and Your promises are MAGNIFICENT. Thank You for salvation by which we become partakers of Your divine nature. Thank You for the Bible and Your Spirit by which we walk out Your magnificent, divine promises.
Record your praise to God that He is “Magnificent” in Prayers of My Heart. Pray for yourself and intercede for your family and others that they live by God’s magnificent promises.
Good to Consider When We’re Anxious and Praying
Who do you call on when you’re anxious and scared and it seems there is no one who can help you? Who do you call out to when you’re powerless to change a situation? Those times have a way of humbling us. Whereas we may have been too busy to pray, we suddenly find we’re continually praying. We’re calling on God, crying out to Him. Such was the case with King Hezekiah when Sennacherib, King of Assyria, threatened to overtake Jerusalem. Hezekiah prayed and prayed hard. Listen to his prayer:
“O LORD OF HOSTS, the God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and listen to all the words of Sennacherib, who sent them to reproach the living God. … Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, LORD, are God.” Isaiah 37:16-17, 20
Needless to say, Hezekiah didn’t want to be defeated. He didn’t want Jerusalem to be taken over by an enemy. But his prayer also points to a noble reason to pray for God’s deliverance – so people will know that the LORD is God of all the kingdoms of the earth. When we pray, do we pray only for ourselves? Or, are we praying so God is glorified in and through our situation?
LORD of Hosts who is enthroned above the cherubim, we worship You and recognize You as God alone over all the kingdoms of the earth. Your will be done in our hearts and lives so You are glorified.