Twice Born

Therefore if anyone belongs to Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold new things have come (2 Cor 5:17).

The term “born again” has been used so flippantly that the depth of these words has been blurred. When we choose a spiritual rebirth through accepting Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as a personal gift from God, the old person has passed away. We become a new creation with new spiritual DNA.

There is a renewal of the mind that urges us to live in accordance with God’s word and will, doing or avoiding things we may have never before even considered. If we choose to disobey, an inner conflict signals a warning.

For some, the change is dramatic. I would think for most the changes are gradual, but in hindsight we can look back and recognize spiritual growth. We can look back even as older believers, and see the gentle guiding hand of our loving Father whose mercy is new every morning.

 

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Walking in Truth

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John 1:4).

I truly believe that after my children took their first breath, they each (yep, all of them) wailed, “Okay world, I’m ready to take you on.” God blessed them by creating in each of them strong bodies, strong passionate hearts, and strong minds to think, will and direct.

Then God, in a manner, stepped aside after creating them, and granted each a free will. He allows them, and all of us, the choices that affect our physical bodies, our emotions, our thoughts. If we choose to submit to the power offered to us through His Spirit, only then can we truly follow the plan He outlines for each of us in His word—the truth (every word of it).

We can’t successfully do it without Him. We’ve seen the distressing results of bodies that have succumbed to every unhealthy desire, tongues that spoke hurtfuln and harmful words, and rampant emotions that led to depression or even tragedy.

Why wouldn’t I want my children to walk in the truth? Today there are more and more people who are living in acceptance of the lies of the enemy and moving further and further away from the truth. In order to walk in the truth, they would be walking against the flow. It may not be as severe as in some countries where believers, even young children, are beheaded for refusing to denounce their faith. Nonetheless, in today’s world, holding firm to unpopular biblical truths can be quite distressing.

To me there is still no greater joy, because living true to the convictions defined in His word can lead to a life without inner-conflict, contented and gratifying here on earth, and a promise that we’ll be together for a phenomenal eternity.

Chosen

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:13-16).

I would like to share with you part of a story from Crosswalk. I hope I can do it justice without getting too lengthy.

A women’s ministry speaker challenged her audience by asking them to be still and listen to their hearts in order to recognize the lies about themselves that either knowingly or unknowingly linger there. It may have been something spoken by a parent, teacher, spouse, school kid, or something not even spoken at all, just believed. The ladies were asked to write them down, then symbolically (and not so symbolically) place them at the foot of a wooden cross and replace them with a “truth card” that she had prepared citing a promise or positive affirmation from God’s word.

After the retreat, the speaker gathered the cards and noticed that over and over again the word “worthless” appeared. This big, fat, ugly lie is one that the enemy throws in our face time and time again.

As parents, we were intentional in instilling a positive self-concept in our children; in fact, one spouse says that we went a little overboard. But it really is not based on anything we do or are. Self-worth is only meaningful when we recognize who we are in Jesus—beloved, precious, wonderfully made. We are not only worthwhile, but we are a necessary part of His perfect plan; and to believers, all mistakes and sins are covered.

Next time a negative self-thought pops in, recognize that it is not from the One who made us just as He wanted us, “complete” and filled with all His fullness and power.

Wait

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him (Ps 37:7a).

For a while food trends in the U.S. were all about speed—microwaved fast food from freezer to table in five minutes or less. Recently we have realized the value of waiting, starting from the real deal and patiently waiting until it reaches the richness of its intended, wholesome end. I’m not sure if it’s me, women in general, or our culture that finds patience at a minimum.

 I am beginning to realize that God doesn’t always work on my schedule, nor does He always answer my anxious prayers the way that I think will remedy situations. When I think back on some of my prayers, it’s obvious that God loves me, and has always worked things in His way, in His time, for my best interest. Like Garth says, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

I have found, too, in hindsight, that when God isn’t as fast as I think He should be, that He is preparing me. There is usually something lacking, often in my character, which needs to be dealt with first.

Our Father really does know best and I hope someday to learn not to question Him.

Those Who Seek

I love those who love Me; And those who diligently seek Me will find Me (Prov 8:17).

In discussions with other believers, the topic of God’s will never fails to eventually come up. God, for sure, wants us to know His will, to desire to do and say things that align with His word. But more than even that, He wants us to grow in the grace and knowledge of His Son. In other words, not to just seek His will, but to KNOW Him.

To understand concepts like this, I have to relate it to my experiences, in this case, as a wife. When my husband and I first began building a relationship, we learned things about each other—likes, dislikes, annoyances…. Later, as our relationship grew, we learned about each other on a much deeper level—what we valued, what was in our hearts. Because of this, we could each anticipate how the other might react to a situation.

The great thing about our perfect Father is that the more we know, the more amazed we are. He is the author of every good thing, the very definition of love. And as knowledge of Him grows, it is both astonishing and humbling to be considered His dearly beloved child.

Submission

Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (Eph 5:21).

Our ladies’ group was discussing submission a few days ago and I was reminded of some of the principles that, as I saunter through the day, are so easy to disregard. I also realized that this topic and related scriptural references were ones that I had never written about—maybe because it is so volatile and misunderstood even among believers, and especially when dealing with less-than-perfect marriage relationships.

The goal of submission is not domination/subservience, but rather unity. And the path to unity is kindness, respect, honor and love—one to another.

Submission is lifting another up—not pulling or dragging, but lifting for the other’s greater good. That is so opposite of pride or even low self-esteem where we’re trying to make ourselves feel good, right, or knowledgeable.

Relationships always work best when we follow the instructions and guidelines of the Creator. And I personally think the connotations of the words arrogant and prideful are much more distasteful than that of one who serves out of love.

Tuning in to The Good Shepherd

He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all His own, He goes ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice (John 10:3-4).

I was raised in an Italian household where almost daily there were lots of people there, talking all at once, usually at a high volume. I learned early on to block out conversations and to concentrate in the midst of chaos. This isn’t always a good thing because now when I tune-out, I sometimes miss some very important information.

Tuning in to the Good Shepherd is vital for every believer. It is one conversation that we don’t want to miss or dismiss. Hearing His voice is important, not only for direction, but also to build a relationship with the One who loves us so much. And when He does direct us, it is in ways that are the best ways.

He never pushes or forces, but gently guides us to “have a life that is full and good.”