Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Ways of the Sinner

Eve saw that the tree was good for food, and she coveted the wisdom it would bring her. She took and ate of its fruit, offering it to her husband also. She and Adam realized their naked state and attempted to hide it from God. Genesis 3:6-8

Cain saw that the Lord respected Abel’s offering and coveted that respect. Cain took his brother, Abel’s life, and attempted to hide his sin from God. Genesis 4:4-9

Joseph’s brothers saw that he was favored by their father and by the Lord (Genesis 37:4-8) and coveted that favor (Genesis 37:11). They attempted to take away that favor by selling him to Ishmaelite travelers. They killed a goat, dipping Joseph’s tunic in the blood in order to hide their sin from their father.

Achan, of the tribe of Judah, sinned before the Lord, bringing defeat and death upon the Israelites. He saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, coveted them, took them, and hid them. Joshua 7:21

David saw Bathsheba, (a married woman), bathing on the roof of her house, and he coveted her beauty. He sent messengers to take her and then slept with her, resulting in an unexpected pregnancy. He attempted to hide his sin by orchestrating the murder of her husband and marrying her himself. 2Samuel 11

Are you seeing a pattern here? In each situation, the individual/s saw, coveted, took, and hid.

It doesn’t appear that sin is something we ‘fall’ into, but rather a series of conscious choices. It is an action that we have several opportunities to change, and the first opportunity presents itself the moment we lay eyes upon it. This is when we face two options: look upon it a little longer, or turn the other way and get out of dodge! Should we choose to linger, covetousness sets in and we must make a vital choice: give in to this desire and take what we know is not ours, or flee the temptation and head in the opposite direction (1 Timothy 6:11). If we give into desire, there remains a way of escape: bring it into the light by confessing our sin. However, when we allow sin to go this far, we begin to sear our conscience, and when our conscience is seared, hiding sin becomes oh so easy and logical (1 Timothy 4:2).

Not only does sin involve seeing, coveting, taking, and hiding, but also enticing others to sin with us (Genesis 3:6- She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate), casting blame for our sin rather than taking responsibility for our action (Genesis 3:12,13- “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” and “The serpent deceived me and I ate.”), and flat out lying about our sin when confronted (Genesis 4:9 “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”).

We all choose sin and we all fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). However, God offers grace to those who repent (Psalm 32:5). Unlike Adam and Eve, who were merely afraid of being naked and found out by God (Genesis 3:10), we must have a heart of true repentance, confessing our sin the moment we are convicted by it, receiving forgiveness, and choosing righteousness.

“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”  Genesis 4:7

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Everything's Gonna Be Okay

“Everything’s gonna be okay, mom!”

She’s been yelling it through the house for weeks now. I’m not sure what started it, or why she feels the need to remind me every day, over, and over, and over again. Am I so stressed and overwhelmed with life that my fourteen-year-old feels the need to put things back into perspective for me? I certainly hope not! But, I welcome these words!

“Everything’s gonna be okay, mom!”

From out of nowhere they smack me in the face, and instantly I feel relief. What’s funny is that most of the time I don’t even realize my stress. There I am, going about my daily duties, folding clothes, sweeping the floor, driving the kids to school, and BAM- those words are thrown at me. It’s at that moment that I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. It’s at that moment that I allow myself to exhale and relax. It’s at that moment that I realize everything IS going to be okay. EVERYTHING! And it’s at that moment that I am incredibly thankful for my fourteen-year-old! (Oh how I NEED to be thankful for her; to be reminded of how precious she is and how much I need her.)

I love how God speaks to me- in so many ways. I love that He allows me to be taught by the one I am obligated to teach. Doesn’t He know exactly WHAT to say, and exactly HOW to say it?! Only He knows that anyone else could say those exact words to me, and they wouldn’t quite have the same effect.

“Everything’s gonna be okay, mom!”

Yes, EVERYTHING IS going to be okay!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Four Truths to Live By

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.

18. This is a continuation of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians and it proceeds fourteen verses of explanation regarding who they were in Christ. Here, Paul talks of their understanding (which refers to their feelings, desires, and thoughts) versus their knowledge (facts which have definite meaning); what they feel as opposed to what they know. So often my feelings, desires, and thoughts contradict and overrule what I know as fact- specifically regarding who God is and who I am. This is why I must take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:5). Paul prays they become enlightened (instilled with saving grace- we can only fight this battle of the mind by God’s grace), so that they can grasp and walk in a clear understanding of what the facts are; of what their hope (expectation) is in. What are the facts? 1. They were called (personally invited). 2. They received an inheritance abounding in riches and wealth (This is the third time Paul speaks of their inheritance- Maybe inheritances were a big deal to the Ephesians?). 3. They are saints- most holy thing! Wow! Should a most holy thing have a problem with identity and receiving what’s already been given?

19. He goes on- not only does he want them to grasp who they are and what they have received, but also the power of the One who made them who they are and gave them all they have. He pleads for them to grasp this exceeding (surpassing; excelling) strength and ability of God toward us who believe. Beth Moore teaches this word ‘believe’ to be ‘presently, actively, continually believing,’ and it refers to being persuaded and confidently trusting. Paul uses three different words for ‘power’ in this one verse. I think he wants us to grasp one last thing: 4.The power of our God.

My takeaway- What I know must overrule what I feel, desire, and think. I don't always feel or act like a daughter of the King, but that doesn't change the fact that I am. Do not cease to pray for God’s grace to confidently walk in the knowledge that my hope is in Christ and He has called me by name to receive an inheritance overflowing with an abundance of riches and wealth that will not perish. I am a saint; a most holy daughter of the King, and I should walk as that, with my head held high. Before I can walk as a confident ‘princess,’ I must understand the power of the King I’ve been accepted by. WHO IS HE? He made me who I am and has given me all I have. His exceeding strength is toward me, because I believe in Him. I pray that my belief would be not only for this moment, but presently, actively, and continually.

Walk in these truths:
1. I am called
2. I have received an inheritance
3. I am a saint
4. My God is powerful

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Identity vs Action

The cottage cheese thighs and muffin top drove me to it. I couldn’t take it anymore. After weeks of not running and weeks prior to that of sporadic, inconsistent running, I shoved myself onto the treadmill. I can honestly say it was torture. Not a moment of enjoyment or satisfaction. (I actually took a picture of my own muffin top, but could not bring myself to post it for you!)

The whole time I kept pushing aside thoughts that went something like ‘if you’d been more consistent you wouldn’t be having this issue right now,’ or ‘your laziness sure took its toll.’ Yes, those things are TRUE, I can’t deny that. However, I can deny them being noble, lovely, pure, praiseworthy, or of good report! And if my thoughts don’t fit into those categories, I mustn’t think on them (Phil 4:8).

What did I replace those ugly, blameworthy, discouraging thoughts with? ‘Yes, this is horrible and something close to torture, yes, I brought it on myself, but I know I CAN do this because I’ve done it before!’  

God is teaching me the importance of knowing MY IDENTITY, and not just that, but the difference between MY IDENTITY and MY ACTIONS. It seems like I am writing a lot about this lately, which must mean I have much to learn in this area. How often those two things get confused in my mind and life: IDENTITY and ACTIONS. I fall short and I sin (action), leaving me feeling unaccepted and less loved by God (identity). Does this mean that when I have a moment without sin (surely I must have those) that God loves and accepts me more? NOPE.

I can do nothing to make God love me more. I can do nothing to make God love me less. I am accepted by Him regardless of my actions. I’m reminded of the name He gave me, and I offer this task up to you as well. Ask God to give you a name. Ask Him who you are. I did this, and before I could even finish asking, I clearly heard the word BELOVED. About a week later, as I thought about this word and was writing it down, I realized that to be His BELOVED, I must BE LOVED; I must allow myself to receive His love. Do you see this? BELOVED = BE LOVED. This is what God is walking me through. Scratch that! If God says I am (or you are) His BELOVED, that means exactly that. I can choose to receive it or not. However, if I choose not to receive His love, I remain His BELOVED regardless. My job- to walk in it; to let my actions reflect that identity.

I cannot walk in my identity if I don’t know and accept who I am. Because I KNEW I could do it, I didn’t allow my inconsistency and laziness to keep me from running for thirty minutes. As I struggled on that treadmill I kept telling myself ‘I’m going to get through this, because I KNOW I’m a runner! I KNOW I can do this and I will not allow my actions this past month to change that!’

MY ACTION- I fall short and sin everyday

MY IDENTITY- Beloved by God and made righteous and holy

My actions do not change my identity

'Remind Me Who I Am' Jason Gray You Tube
(Be sure to watch the video as you listen closely to the words)

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ephesians 1:1-14 -Who I Am In Christ

I have completed my first week together with a group of 15 other ladies in the book of Ephesians. If I ever again doubt who I am in Christ, I have only to turn to this first chapter to regain full confidence of my state before Him! I praise God for using Paul to write this letter to the Ephesians and to us.
Go here for a quick Introduction to the book of Ephesians.

Ephesians 1:1-14
Paul is an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to God’s will, not the will of any man. Paul was formerly a murderer of Christians, yet God willed him to be a changed man, an apostle, a delegated messenger sent forth with orders. If God can turn a murderer into a messenger of life, what can He do with you and me?
He writes to the saints, those already saved, you and me, and he begins with the words grace and peace. Paul was a zealous man of God. Can you imagine receiving a letter from him? I wonder if the Ephesians’ chests became tight with thoughts of ‘oh dear, what’s he going to say? What have we done wrong?’  Then the letter is read and they hear those words: grace and peace. What a release! What a huge weight lifted off the shoulders of these believers! What a vital message for me as mom, wife, friend. Paul didn’t immediately zero in on the issues of wives submitting to husbands, children honoring parents, or slaves obeying masters (or keeping a clean house, having dinner on the table by 5:00). I want to offer my children grace and peace BEFORE I press them about hanging up their coats, putting their shoes away, or getting their homework finished. How much more willingly they will do these things if grace and peace are in the forefront!
Paul doesn’t attempt to understand, rationalize, or explain every spiritual blessing or what exactly it means that He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world. Predestination? Isn’t that a can of worms we all want to jump right into? Paul simply rejoices that it is so. He praises God for our blessings and takes comfort in his salvation. Do I think it was easy for Paul to look back and realize that while he was slaying God’s people, God looked upon him and said, “He’s mine. I already chose him.” I doubt Paul could wrap his mind around that! However, he chose to accept it, praise God for it, and walk in it. Because of that, he was able to see himself in the eyes of his Lord as holy and without blame and was able to offer this same confidence to other believers as well. This is a high calling for me as a wife and mom. It is by accepting and walking in my identity in Christ as chosen in Him before the foundation of the world and holy and without blame that peace and grace will flow from me to others.
There’s that controversial issue again- predestined. Only, Paul takes it further and reminds us that we are adopted children. The fact that I’m not a Jew should disqualify me, but no, He adopted me and made me His. Most adopted children don’t resemble their adopted parents, but I resemble my adopted Father, bearing His Spirit, His attributes, being created in His image. Not only are we adopted but we are accepted! I have not adopted children, nor was I adopted by my parents, but I have had foster children in my home, and I know they struggled to feel accepted. They also desperately wanted to be with their unsafe, unhealthy parents because that was the situation they knew and were comfortable in. I was adopted by my heavenly Father almost 14 years ago, yet there are times I still feel unaccepted by my new family. I feel like I don’t quite fit in, yet I don’t fit in with the world anymore either. Adoption can be a tough road, but we ARE accepted in the Beloved. My adoption is final and it brings praise of the glory of His grace.
It is only in Jesus Christ that we have redemption from our sins. This redemption is a releasing, a deliverance, a freedom from the price required for my sin, and that price is death. Christ died in my place and I am free! This grace, this receiving what I don’t deserve, is found in His forgiveness and it abounds toward me!  I am to live as one who has received COMPLETE freedom and deliverance. Rather bear the countless horrible things I’ve done, said, or thought on my shoulders, I want to walk in COMPLETE forgiveness (letting the sin go as if it had never been committed) because this is what Christ has done for me! And this forgiveness He made to ABOUND toward me. I like what the online strong’s says about this word ABOUND- “Abounding is used of a flower going from a bud to full bloom.”

I feel like that bud, not allowing myself to fully bloom, not receiving the abundance of God’s forgiveness.  The word says He made known to me (confided in me- you only confide in those you trust) His forgiveness through the blood of Jesus. I want to walk in that. If I can only receive this forgiveness toward myself, wouldn’t I be able to freely offer it to others! I sit as if chained in shackles when those shackles have been released! I stay as a caged bird while the door is wide open and freedom one step away. Lord, help me choose to walk in freedom rather than sit in a bondage I’ve been released from.

This word inheritance is different than the one used in verse 14 and is the only time this word is used in the bible. It refers to casting/determining by lots; receiving and inheritance; a private possession we’ve already obtained. Because I am adopted, I am an heir of Christ and a receiver of the inheritance. As the people of Ephesus were growing rich making and selling idols of the goddess Diana, Paul reminds the Christians that they have real, true riches. How easily I’m deceived into coveting this world’s riches rather than embracing the heavenly riches of my inheritance. Yes, oftentimes the ungodly prosper and seem to have it all, but I must trust God’s will for my life. This trusting in Him brings praise because this kind of trust makes no worldly sense and brings all the glory of my life to Him alone. I must not just believe IN Him, but believe Him.

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom 10:17). I heard, I trusted, I believed, I was SEALED by the Holy Spirit. This word ‘sealed’ is the same word used in Matt 27:66 when the stone was sealed over Jesus’ tomb, in John6:27 God set a seal on Jesus, in Rev 7:3-8 the tribes and believers are sealed, and my favorite Rev 20:3- God shuts up Satan in the bottomless pit and seals him there. This is a mighty seal! The seal of the Holy Spirit I have CANNOT be broken by Satan and it is secure until the time of REDEMPTION- A releasing affected by payments of ransom. I am already redeemed, but there’s more to come in my REDEMPTION! My redemption will be complete when I am brought into perfection.

I am the PURCHASED POSSESSION! I was purchased by Him and I belong to Him. This word means- a preserving; a preservation. I am reminded of sealed canning jars. Don’t you just love that ‘pop’ of those jars as they seal up one at a time? Such satisfaction! What a picture of His satisfaction when we receive the Holy Spirit and are SEALED- preserved, until the day that we are released from this tent and brought into completed perfect redemption. The Holy Spirit guarantees this! It’s like dumping that jar of pie filling into the crust. Completed! Perfected! Finished!
And the result of ALL OF THIS- to the praise of His glory! May He be praised and glorified through the work He does in this chosen, holy, blameless, predestined, adopted, accepted, redeemed, forgiven, saved, sealed, purchased possession of His! Wow! No, I will not try to fully understand it all, but to fully believe it and walk in it J
'Forgiven' Sanctus Real You Tube
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Ephesians-An Introduction

I’ve been diving into the book of Ephesians with a group of women online, taking it verse by verse, day by day. Before beginning, I decided to set the scene for myself and gain a better understanding of the purpose and heart behind this epistle. This is my intro into the book of Ephesians.

As I study the book of Ephesians, I want to remember, as with all books of the bible, that what I am reading is real. Ephesus was a real place, with real Christians, who had real life issues.  The people of Ephesus were known as Ephesians, and the apostle Paul wrote a very personal letter to the Christians living in Ephesus. This letter was passed around and, because it was found to be not just a simple letter written by an average guy, but rather inspired by the Holy Spirit, it was included in our bible as ‘The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians.’  Although written for this specific group of Christians, the message applies to our lives as well.
The first time we see the city of Ephesus in the bible is in the book of Acts, which tells of the spreading of the gospel and the growth of the church after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. Acts18:19-21 tells us that Paul visited Ephesus (about 25 years after Jesus’ death), reasoned with the Jews in the synagogue, and left shortly afterward, promising to return, if the Lord allowed. Upon his return, he baptized and laid hands on about twelve disciples, who in turn received the Holy Spirit, spoke with tongues, and prophesied. Paul ministered to these disciples daily for two years and all the Jews and Gentiles heard about Jesus Christ because of him (Acts19:1-10).
The enormous city of Ephesus, with a population of almost ¼ million people, was known all across Asia for its temple and worship of the goddess Diana. Its local merchants made a substantial profit producing handmade goddesses. Yet, as the gospel of Jesus spread, many were converted and their proceeds took a significant hit. Likewise, those practicing magic gave up their traditions, burned their books, and followed the teachings of Christ. This resulted in an enormous riot against Paul and the teaching of the gospel throughout the entire city of Ephesus (Acts 19:11-41). Following the riot, Paul left Ephesus, but was able return for one final visit to encourage the church elders, warn them of the dangers of false doctrine and leaders, and bid them an emotional farewell, assured he would never see their faces again (Acts20:17-38).
After spending two years teaching and living among them, the Christians of Ephesus became near and dear to Paul’s heart, and about three years later, as he sat chained in a Roman prison, Paul took time to write a very heartfelt letter to those in Ephesus. However, these God inspired words are not solely for the church of Ephesus, but for each of us.  So my hope is to take each chapter, each verse, each word, and receive it as a personal letter from my Lord to me. He speaks to us! He has a message for us, and that message is found throughout this book.
So, let’s dig in! I hope you decide to study this book also. Either way, check back occasionally so I can share with you all the jewels He gives me. I look forward to reading yours as well! J

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Redemption, Forgiveness, Freedom

This past Monday, I started an online bible study through the book of Ephesians with a group of wonderful women. Wow!  When you take teeny tiny pieces of scripture, write them out, and focus on each little word and phrase, God opens up the floodgate! I am prone to bulldoze through an entire chapter or two, check it off the list, and move on with my day. Generally this results in the question, what was it I read this morning?

Today (day three) we looked at Ephesians 1:7-10.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth- in Him.

Yes, we are moving v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w, and yes, it has been like an abundance of food for my soul to glean from God’s word, His Spirit, and His people! I absolutely love what my sister’s share each day!

I want to share with you my application for today.

I am really challenged to live as one who has received COMPLETE freedom and deliverance from the penalty of my sin. We live in a world that requires you pay the price for your wrongdoing and requires you live your life bearing that wrongdoing... Once a _________ always a _________.  Rather than live the rest of my life bearing the countless horrible things I’ve done, said, or thought on my shoulders, I want to walk in COMPLETE forgiveness (letting the sin go as if it had never been committed) because this is what Christ has done for me! And this forgiveness He made to ABOUND toward me. I like what the online strong’s says about this word ABOUND- “Abounding is used of a flower going from a bud to full bloom.”

I feel like that bud, not allowing myself to fully bloom, not receiving the abundance of God’s forgiveness.  The word says He made known to me (confided in me- you only confide in those you trust) His forgiveness through the blood of Jesus. I want to walk in that. If I can only receive this forgiveness toward myself, wouldn’t I be able to freely offer it to others! Lord, help me walk in FREEDOM! I sit as if chained in shackles when those shackles have been released! I stay as a caged bird while the door is wide open and freedom one step away. Lord, help me choose to walk in freedom rather than sit in a bondage I’ve been released from.

 The idea of this study is offered by the Good Morning Girls.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” –John 16:33

In the world you will have tribulation. This is a promise. This is a guarantee. We live in a world full of sin and ruled by Satan (2 Cor 4:4, Eph 2:2), and tribulation is always right around the corner. Sometimes it slams us in the face, sometimes it slowly creeps into our lives, and other times we willingly, knowingly, persistently walk right into it.

The Israelites walked into 40 years of it when they refused to enter the land of Promise because of fear and unbelief (Num 14:26-38). The prodigal son didn’t think twice before he irrationally forsook the peace and protection of his father’s home and found himself in a place of loneliness, hunger, and need (Lk 15:11-32). King David made a rash decision to not only take another man’s wife, but also premeditate the murder of that man in an attempt to cover his own sin (2 Sam 11).

Why is it that we refuse to trust God in the simplest things? When God says “take over Jericho,” we say, “No, Lord, there are giants there.” When He offers protection and peace, we throw it back in His face and sprint for a world that hands us trouble and heartache. He’s given us all we need in the place He has put us, yet we see what’s on the other side of the fence and decide that what we have is simply not enough.

God has made real to me these things lately as I grow in frustration, disappointment, and anger at my dog. Yes, he is just a dog, but we love him as a part of our family. However, he refuses to stay in the yard. For the past few months he has continually done everything possible to escape and run loose. He even had to spend an entire day and night in doggy jail, and I felt horrible. That is until we received a warning that we would be cited the next time he was loose and ‘obstructing traffic,’ then I was just mad. When his night in jail taught him nothing, we were forced to keep him tied up, rather than let him run free in his yard and risk the chance of another escape. However, day after day I would sit and listen to him bark and whine for hours and hours. I felt so bad! I complained to my hubby that our dog was as annoying as a pack of Israelites, complaining even though God had already given them everything they needed! Why can’t he just learn his lesson already?!

My hubby spent this last weekend digging holes, pouring concrete, and building a fence strong enough and tall enough to keep him in. What a relief to finally be able to let him off the leash and know he is secure and safe. Well, that’s what we thought until I came home to signs of his successful attempt to escape the safety of his yard. He had dug a hole under the new fence, and broken through, leaving bits of fur behind.  I imagine that was painful.

Yes, he’s purposefully put himself and others at risk. He is gone, out of my protection, thinking he is wise enough to make it on his own. He looks through that fence and thinks "the grass is greener over there!" Little does he know, the grass is ALWAYS greener over the septic tank! If I could speak ‘dog,’ I would tell him that I know what’s best for him! I would say that I’ve provided everything he needs for peace, protection, and happiness, but he chooses what’s out in the world and puts himself in danger. If I could become a K9 and clearly explain myself to my dog, I could show him that our discipline is for his good, for the protection of him and of others.

Our Lord has done everything possible to make his message clear to us. He became a man in the flesh so that we could know him personally! He’s written an entire book, just for us, in a way that we can comprehend. He tells us that yes, this world is full of troubles, but take heart, I have overcome the world, and I give you peace! All we need to do is stay in that yard, in the place of protection, and not wander out into a world that will harm us. Tribulation is a promise and a guarantee, but God also promises His peace. I just have to trust Him.

The grass is always greener, over the septic tank. -unknown
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Monday, January 16, 2012

White as Snow

This is what we woke to this morning. No it’s not much, but we are hoping for more! Who doesn’t anticipate a day filled with snow? I know my kids do, and I don’t think it’s just because they get to skip school for a day. Yes, they enjoy standing under falling flakes, constructing snow men, and taking advantage of the opportunity to throw frozen balls of ice at one another’s face, while mom is totally ok with it. But what else is it about snow?

Snow- it blankets the ground with cleanliness and purity. It covers all the dirt, mud, muck, and grime that life leaves behind. What a perfect glimpse of God’s holiness! What a wonderful picture of His righteousness which covers our imperfections!

Just as He chose us before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love 
-Ephesians 1:4

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 
-2 Corinthians 5:21

That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
–Ephesians 5:27

Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless 
-2 Peter 3:14

Just as the snow eventually melts, reminding us again of the filth surrounding us, our sins and failures can fill our thoughts, clouding the truth of who we are before God. Let us be diligent to walk in the righteousness we have in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We ARE white as snow. We ARE blameless before God. We are set apart and sanctified. When the enemy throws our sins before us, we CAN confidently throw the holiness we have in Christ right back at him because we ARE clean, we ARE washed, we ARE holy in Christ.

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 
-1 John 1:7

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Friday, January 13, 2012

The Rod of Correction

I’m so glad you stopped by! Today’s post turned out to be more of a book, so grab a cup of coffee, a comfy chair, your favorite slippers, and your bible, because this is gonna to take a while.

As I’ve thought and prayed lately about my son and the struggle we are walking in (you can read a little about that here), one verse has consistently came to mind:

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him. -Proverbs 22:15

In the past, I went to this particular word often. Lately, as I reflect on my son’s younger days, I recall having to physically discipline him day after day after day. For longer than I care to admit, there was not one single day that the physical rod was not used on my son’s rear-end. Wherever we went, the rod went. It was horrible, but it was consistent, done in love (most of the time), and it worked! Even my son knew it worked, as he would tell me at times that he needed to be placed back under God’s umbrella of protection by receiving some discipline. (Here is a blog post I came across that explains this concept, originally taken from TeddTripp’s Shepherding A Child’s Heart.)

 There came a time that we slowly ceased using that rod as discipline. Part of the reason is because he was learning obedience and didn’t need it as often. Another reason was because our foster children came to live with us, and since we were unable to discipline them in a way that utilized anything physical (believe me when I say this may have been the most difficult issue of my life), we resorted to other methods such as time-outs. As time went on, I found myself sending my son to ‘time-out,’ something we hadn’t previously done with our children. Eventually the physical discipline disappeared altogether.

Now my son is ten, and the years of physical discipline have passed. To use the rod at this point would only produce in him frustration, humiliation, and eventually bitterness and a hardened heart. As Proverbs 22:15 repeatedly came to my mind without fail throughout this past week, I kept disregarding it, thinking it simply didn’t apply any longer to the discipline of our children. However, I finally decided to seek God and the scriptures for an understanding of the rod as it pertains to my children, and I was drawn to the story of Moses.

In Exodus, Moses converses with God at the burning bush, when God informs him that he is to return to Egypt and release the Israelites from bondage. Moses responds by asking what he’s supposed to do if the people don’t believe he was sent by God (Ex 4:1). This is when God points out the rod in Moses’ hand, turns it into a serpent , back into a rod, and then proclaims “that they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you” (Ex 4:5).  This spoke to me in such a powerful way! The purpose of the rod in this situation was to make known who God is, and the authority He placed in Moses.

In chapters 7, 8, 9, 10, and 14, Moses and Aaron are commanded to use the rod for one purpose: “By this you shall know that I am the Lord” (Ex 7:17). After the Israelites are freed from the bondage of Egypt, we find them complaining of thirst in the desert. God sends Moses with the rod before the people to strike a rock, which springs forth water for all to drink (Ex 17:1-6). Moses is instructed on a later occurrence to again take the rod and go with Aaron before the people. This time however, God tells him to simply speak to the rock. Instead, Moses loudly proclaims the Israelites to be rebels and rather than speak to the rock, he strikes it not once, but twice, and water gushed from the rock, relieving the thirsty Israelites (Num 20:7-12).

This too spoke strongly to me regarding the rod and my children. I’m beginning to see the rod as more than just a physical device of discipline. God used the rod to show Himself to His children and to proclaim the authority He bestowed upon Moses as their leader. There were times for striking with the rod, and there were times for simply speaking the words of God. Yet, while Moses was to merely speak, he never ceased to bear the rod- the authority of God over the people. Could the rod of correction at times be the Word, which is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16) and spoken by the one holding God’s authority in another’s life?

The use of the rod must be backed with purpose and that purpose is to gently restore my children in their relationship with God, with me, and with others (Gal 6:1). Yet, I am an imperfect parent, and I fall short. However, even when I misrepresent the Lord to my children, and abuse the authority He has given me, as Moses did by striking the rock, God continues ministering to my children and providing for my children just as He did for the children of Israel. And just as Moses received a sever consequence (not leading the Israelites into the Promised Land) I too will be unable to receive God’s promises in my life, unable to lead my children in areas of blessing.

So how does Proverbs 22:15 and the use of the rod apply to me and my children? How do I take this word and use it in our home? I compiled a list of ten applications:

1. Don’t be surprised or caught off guard by my children’s foolishness and sin (Pro 22:15)
2. Remember that sin is a heart issue and things take time to ‘unbind’ (Pro 22:15)
3. Feed my children the word of God at all times and believe God for who He is (Deut 6:7, Num 20:12)
4. The way of discipline looks different for each child and in each season of life (Ex 17, Num 20)
5. Take my role of authority seriously, leading by example, and not abusing that roll (1 Pt5:2-3)
6. Be quick to confess to my children and ask forgiveness when I fall short (Matt 5:23-24)
7. Be gentle during times of discipline, always purposing to bring reconciliation (Gal 6:1, Matt 5:24)
8. Be aware that harsh discipline has the potential to provoke my children to wrath (Eph6:4)
9. Don’t misrepresent God to them (Numb 20:12)
10. And, of course, Pray with and for them (Col 4:2)

Well, that sums up today’s novel. What are your thoughts on the rod and discipline, specifically for those children who are beyond the years of physical discipline?

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me –Psalm 23:4

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