Waiting…wai-ting…w-a-i-t-ing…….

Sometimes life feels like I am in a waiting room, waiting to be called for a scheduled appointment. If the appointment is a medical one there are various ways to keep the time. Some people produce a mental array of ‘what-if’s’. By the time they are ushered into their appointment they are an emotional wreck and their blood pressure is off the charts. On the other end of the scale, there are those who spend the waiting time putting happy thoughts into their minds, working very hard at staying positive. Of course, every magazine in the room has been looked at to make the wait less agonizing. You finally find the one that looks interesting when you hear your name.

I hate to wait. I need to know the answers so I can gain a measure of peace in my mind and control in my life. I am purpose-driven to the extreme, so I must find purpose in every situation I encounter. I need to know, and I need to know now. I think that is every person’s experience. It isn’t easy.

With that being said, have you ever noticed that God never seems to be in a hurry? I have worked myself into a lather about something, and He waits patiently for me to finish before proceeding. I am desperate for an answer, a destination. God has designed a magnificent journey.

What if some of the best blessings in life are formed on the way, while waiting for answers? Most of the time it is the journey to the destination where we discover amazing, life-changing truths. My attitude during the process often determines where and how I reach my goals. Almost without fail my purpose in any circumstance is to find answers. God purpose is who I am becoming.

God has a plan for me. A plan even bigger than I can imagine. My response is always “Great! Let’s go!” I am packed and ready to get there on the fastest mode of transportation available. My mind is racing with possibilities while I wait for my companion, Holy Spirit. It doesn’t take long before I see Him coming. Hmmmm. He doesn’t have any luggage or travel brochures. With a great big smile He approaches me and asks me if I am ready to go. “Absolutely!” Then He hands me a walking stick and a journal.

What I do not yet realize is that there are things I will discover on the journey that will prepare me to live in the destination. Important things that speak to me about who God is and who He wants to be for me every step of the way. That takes time.

I am learning to ask Him unusual questions. What do You want me to see today, Lord? What aspect of Your nature am I going to understand that I don’t know yet? Who do You want to be for me right now? What would it take for me to understand the truth of who You are?

Armed with these kinds of questions, I notice myself beginning to change. The destination, the promise and answer is still before me, but my focus is turning from my goal to my companion. I want to know Him. That is becoming my purpose and my destination.

The more I know Him, the more I become like Him. An amazing transformation is happening in me. I am learning who God really is, and especially who He is for me. I am seeing myself through His lens, which is totally radical! It is only then that I can see others in the same way.

My intimate time with God on this moment by moment journey produces in me everything necessary to fulfill and live out my destiny and purpose. What I am learning now will be the overcoming power in my life ahead. God has a plan – a dream for my life. It is bigger than I am now. Therefore I want to become the person who can handle that dream.

If you happen to be in the “waiting zone” today, be encouraged. Abide in the Vine. Take in all of it’s life-giving nourishment because the harvest will be amazing.

Blessings,

Judy

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KINDERGARTEN BLUES, CONT.

I have heard about the power of Peter. I have heard about the power of Paul. But somewhere between Peter, Paul and me the power petered out. And I couldn’t figure out why. I should be much further along in my walk of faith, and reasoned that the source of my dilema was that old sin nature was up to its nasty tricks again. I believed that was something I would have to fight every day of my life. To the death. Literally.

Religious life is often a series of lessons followed by tests that prove that the lesson was learned thoroughly and applied properly (or not). Much like the educational process; learning, testing, moving forward. However, I often felt like I was stuck in kindergarten forever. Some progress was made overcoming my sin nature, but it was always close at hand, ready to strike. I spent the majority of my time and effort on constant watch for an ambush. More than anything in life I wanted to make God happy but this issue was always in the way.

Applying ‘behavior rules’ only proved my ability to fail. When I succeeded I needed to stay humble, which caused another layer of frustration. Sin was ever before me, always on the back burner of my mind. Like most believers I could heartily agree with Paul when he voices his frustration in Romans 7. He always winds up doing the very thing he does not want to do, and the things he wants to achieve are never reached. Verse 24 describes the place he reached when he said “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Oh yeah, Paul. I feel your pain.

This is one of the most confusing passages in the Bible. Paul just finished telling us that our sin nature is dead. End of discussion. Why, then, does he resurrect it in the very next section? I think the answer is in the first verse of chapter 7. “Do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?” A couple things to note here; first, Paul is addressing those under the Mosaic law. They are the ones who understand this problem because the law can never make anyone holy, no matter how well they obey it. Simply put, Paul is describing what life looks like under the law, or when you depend on your own effort to live a holy life. What we need to understand today is that no one can fulfill the righteous requirement of the law. And that, my friends, is the point. We need a Savior.

We are quick to learn about sin but slow to embrace righteousness. God provided another way to live. Successfully, I might add. So often we emphasize the lists of ‘do not’ and totally ignore the ‘yes!’ rules that Jesus accomplished for us. The first one is the foundation to all others. It is this rule that we build our lives on. Romans 8 states that there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death.

The fact is that because of Jesus we are a new creation. The old is gone. What exactly is gone? My old sin nature. Dead. Gone. And it will not resurrect. This is not zombie-land. Don’t spend another minute trying to kill something that died with Jesus on the cross. Instead, embrace the truth of who God says you are. 2 Corinthians 5:21 gives us an amazing revelation: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ.” Now, imagine what life would look like if that was the foundation?

There is much that can be said about this, including many scriptures to encourage us in our true identity.

Let’s address one more issue today. If my old sin nature is dead, then why do I still struggle? Good question! I asked that very thing while I was enjoying a few moments with Holy Spirit. I am not afraid to ask honest questions. I think God loves it when we do. This particular day I received a very enlightening response. The conversation went something like this: “Okay, Lord, I know that my sin nature is dead. But I am confused about the struggle I still feel.” The answer came in the form of another question; “Were Adam and Eve created with a sin nature?” Well, no, they weren’t. “If they did not have a sin nature, what caused them to sin?” Oh wow. A new thought. Their struggle was not in their nature, it was in their minds. New thoughts were introduced to them. They listened, reasoned and decided to act on those thoughts. What ended in disaster began with a thought.

There is was – plain as day. Words and thoughts were presented to them that challenged what the believed to be true. Instead of rejecting those thoughts, they pondered them, replayed them and eventually acted on them.

What if – that is exactly where our battle is fought? Jesus already won the war for my soul. I wonder how much time and effort goes into fighting for something that is already mine? It is really a simple process. I takes practice and I find that my forgetter works better than my rememberer. I need some help with this, so I asked Holy Spirit to nudge me when I encountering thoughts that will distract me from my true identity and purpose. Don’t open that door. Shut it out. Keep it out. Replace it with what Gods says about the subject. Meditate on that truth, speak it out and turn a potential negative into a powerful victory.

If you are interested in more of this, I have a book available that goes into this in depth entitled GOLD STARS. Please contact me, Judy Murphy at lifebygrace@msn.com for more information.

Until next time, remember – you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.

Blessings,

Judy

KINDERGARTEN BLUES

Kindergarten, the very first day of school. You are about to embark on a brand new adventure called ‘formal education’, and you are ready! New clothes, new shoes, new pencils, new pencil box, new crayons(is there anything better?), new lunchbox filled with real grown-up stuff. Outfitted perfectly and armed with lots of hugs, happy thoughts and pats on the back, you are invincible and prepared to proceed.

You senses are greeted with the most wonderful things; bright colored posters on the walls, the alphabet and numbers lined up close to the ceiling, a room full of new friends, and the sweet angel in front of the room, named “Teacher”.

The first day your mind is spinning with the possibilities that await you and you are excited at the prospect of trying them all out. With preliminary introductions behind you, you are now ready to learn. In your very own assigned desk, feeling grown-up and important, the learning commences. The first thing to learn are, or course, the rules. Looking around the room you understand why they are necessary. Even at that early date you can spot a few people who will need them.

Forging ahead, you successfully meet every challenge, rewarded with “good job” stickers and happy faces that build your confidence and self-esteem. This is good. You decide that you will like school. Advancing in your education is accomplished by many series of lessons and tests. Something new is taught, your understanding is tested and you move on to the next subject. That pretty much describes the rest of your life.

This is a great analogy that describes the life of a new believer in Christ. Everything becomes brand new. Forgiveness erases past sins, you have a new garment called righteousness, a new companion (Holy Spirit) who is with you every moment, new outlook on life, new hope, new love, new eyes to see truth and the power to live it. From that day forward life is different. Eternity is settled and life now promises to be happy and much easier.

What people don’t realize is that you are indeed different, but life around you isn’t. You are faced with the same situations as before. The same problems, the same people, the same job, etc. This can be confusing. Some people assume that everything should run smoother now, and when they don’t their hope can get dented and they need some answers. What happened?

It is at this point people are usually introduced to something called the ‘sin nature’. You are told that it will haunt you the rest of your life, but take heart, here are the rules to live by. Obeying them will eventually bring about the desired changes you are looking for. It is as if your goal of being Christ-like suddenly shot forward years ahead of where you now stand, and it will take time and effort to bring that old sin nature into submission to reach the goal. So, the battle begins. You resign yourself to fighting it until you die.

Does this sound familiar? Advancing in Christianity means a constant struggle of testing and proving your new knowledge against the old nature that wants control. A battle to the death. Literally. Spend enough time here and you begin to feel like you are stuck in kindergarten forever. Your desire is to grow and learn, but passing the constant tests consume all your energy. If this describes your life, take heart! I have some great news for you!

There is more to this that we know. We either forget or are not taught rule number one….the most important rule that will determine the rest of them. Paul speaks about this often; the fact is you are not the same as you have always been. You are a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 states “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Okay, that sounds wonderful, but if I have a new nature, what happened to the old one? Romans 6 tells us that our old sin nature is dead. Jesus took away the sin of the world. It was in Him when He died, and it died with Him on the cross. I don’t have time to go into this in depth, but may I suggest that you read Romans 6 until it becomes reality for you?

We are quick to learn abut sin, but slow to learn righteousness. Let’s turn that around. 2 Corinthains 5:21 tells us that in Christ our identity has been changed to righteous; God’s very righteousness is our new identity. Romans 8:1 says that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus because the law of the Spirit of Life has set us free from the saw of sin and death.

There is still questions, of course. If this is true and my sin nature is dead, why do I still struggle? Good question. I will be happy to answer that in my next blog. I didn’t intend to keep you so long this time, but the subject is very important and needs a little more explanation.

Thanks,
Be blessed!
Judy