Indulge

1 Corinthians 5:9-11, 6:15-20  New Living Translation (NLT)

When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. 10 But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. 11 I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer[a] yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. 

15 Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! 16 And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.”[a] 17 But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.

18 Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

Imagine an old, dilapidated house. In the middle of the dining room, under a large farm table lies an exquisite, one of a kind rug covering the aging hardwood floors. The rug is a masterpiece. Beautiful. Unique. Intricately made. The homeowner inherited it from her Father.

Beneath the rug however, lies deeply hidden secrets. They remain locked in darkness below the trap door which leads to the basement. No house guest, no family member, no friend knows they’re there. The Father knows. So does the homeowner. Desperately she hopes, prays even, that no one ever invades the darkness. For she couldn’t bear to see their disgust once the secrets were exposed. Surely, she assumes, everyone would reject and condemn her.

Occasionally, in the dead of night, when she has trouble sleeping, her mind begins to wander…..her eyes soon follow. Before she knows it, she submits her will to the lust. Her body, overwhelmed by temptation, commits a terrible act, again. Again! Shame immediately covers her. She runs to the dining room, desperate for relief. She pulls the rug back, unlocks the trap door, and shoves more secrets into the basement.

On other nights, she wakes drenched in sweat. Heart racing, her mind is consumed by fear. She tries to convince herself it’s only a bad dream. She runs into the dining room, stomps on the rug that is covering the trap door and shouts “I am more than a conqueror!” But she doesn’t believe it. She goes back to bed, wraps herself in the familiar blanket of shame, and fretfully falls asleep. The next day she wakes feeling utterly defeated and completely alone.

indulge

I was that homeowner.

The old, dilapidated house was my body.

The rug was my new life in Christ.

The locked trap door was my old life.

The dark basement was my soul.

After years of torment by residential demons in my body & soul that claimed squatters rights when I indulged in sexual sin (and others indulged against me), I finally allowed Jesus to gently pull back the rug. We opened the trap door together and His Spirit gave me supernatural courage to face the enemy who had been hiding in the basement for decades. Some demons were immediately evicted as I confessed and repented for each sin. But some required a greater level of humility when I needed to ask others in the body of Christ for help. I engaged my strong will and faced my fear. I invited them to climb down into the basement with me and Jesus. They prayed with me. They saw my shame.  I confessed my sin. I gave up control. I repented. I forgave. They battled the enemy with me. They cheered when Jesus led me out of prison. They celebrated when the chains that bound my hands and feet fell off. They rejoiced when I experienced the promise of freedom in Christ!

Since then, I’ve had the privilege of walking into many deep, dark, basements with Jesus and others. I’ve witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit cast out demons and set captives free. I’ve seen believers experience abundant life as they’ve confessed their sins and been HEALED, body and soul!

My fellow homeowner, if you are a believer, stop indulging in sexual sin. RUN! Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. God bought you at a high price. Jesus laid His life down for you. His blood covers all your sin. You’re already forgiven. He can set you free from the evil that resides in the basement of your soul. You are not the only one in the neighborhood who has indulged. You are not the only one in the church who has locked the trap door to keep the secrets hidden. Ask the Holy Spirit for help. Ask others in the body of Christ for help. The Father wants to restore your old, dilapidated body. The Son wants to gently pull back the rug, unbolt the trap door, climb down into the basement  with you and shine a light into the darkness. The Spirit wants to cover you with His armor and deliver you from the enemy. Victory IS possible!

Revelation 19:6-9 The Message (MSG)

6-8 Then I heard the sound of massed choirs, the sound of a mighty cataract, the sound of strong thunder:

Hallelujah!
The Master reigns,
    our God, the Sovereign-Strong!
Let us celebrate, let us rejoice,
    let us give him the glory!
The Marriage of the Lamb has come;
    his Wife has made herself ready.
She was given a bridal gown
    of bright and shining linen.
The linen is the righteousness of the saints.

The Angel said to me, “Write this: ‘Blessed are those invited to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.’” He added, “These are the true words of God!”

Pray for me

Acts 8:9-24 New Living Translation (NLT)

A man named Simon had been a sorcerer there for many years, amazing the people of Samaria and claiming to be someone great. 10 Everyone, from the least to the greatest, often spoke of him as “the Great One—the Power of God.” 11 They listened closely to him because for a long time he had astounded them with his magic.

12 But now the people believed Philip’s message of Good News concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many men and women were baptized. 13 Then Simon himself believed and was baptized. He began following Philip wherever he went, and he was amazed by the signs and great miracles Philip performed.

14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message, they sent Peter and John there. 15 As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit. 16 The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit.

18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people, he offered them money to buy this power. 19 “Let me have this power, too,” he exclaimed, “so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!”

20 But Peter replied, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! 21 You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. 22 Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, 23 for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.”

24 “Pray to the Lord for me,” Simon exclaimed, “that these terrible things you’ve said won’t happen to me!”

Simon had been astounding the people of Samaria with his sorcery for many years, but when the Good News was preached by Philip, he lost his followers. He, along with many other men and women believed in Jesus and were baptized after hearing Philips message. Amazed by the signs and miracles Philip performed, Simon began following him.

Then Peter and John arrived in the city.

The apostles laid hands on and prayed for the new believers to receive the Holy Spirit. Apparently, Simon was not among the many who received, but he saw the POWER that manifested amongst the people. He wanted that POWER, so he attempted to purchase it from Peter.

He was quickly and firmly rebuked.

Simon had believed and was baptized, but his heart (soul & spirit) was not right with God. Peter implored him to repent to the Lord and be forgiven from the sin that held him captive: PRIDE. Instead, he audaciously commanded Peter to pray for him so that he wouldn’t be destroyed by his sin.

IMG_4466We may not be practicing magic as Simon, but we certainly practice exercising our PRIDE regularly, don’t we? Like Simon, we may even be drawn to the POWER we see manifesting through the lives of others who preach the Good News. Like Simon, we may be jealous of the many who have been baptized with fire, as was prophesied by John the Baptist. Like Simon, we may even believe in the Son of God and have been baptized in water. But if we haven’t received the Holy Spirit as Jesus promised to his disciples (and future disciples), we cannot be set free from the sin that so easily entangles us.

We cannot purchase freedom from sin.

We cannot deliver ourselves from PRIDE.

We cannot buy the POWER to release the Holy Spirit into our lives- or others.

We cannot command or manipulate others in the body of Christ to get what we want.

We can believe in Jesus, be baptized in water and receive the Holy Spirit when we humble ourselves and PRAY.

The next time you are tempted to tell another believer, “pray for me” you may wanna stop and ask the Lord to check your heart. If He reveals wickedness, repent quickly of your bitter jealousy (you probably believe God hears & answers their prayers so you’re attempting to manipulate their access to the Lord). Then ask another believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit if they would lay their hands on you and pray for you to receive the POWER of the Holy Spirit!

Slave AND Apostle

2 Peter 1

This letter is from Simon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ.

I am writing to you who share the same precious faith we have. This faith was given to you because of the justice and fairness of Jesus Christ, our God and Savior.

IMG_5056Simon’s life was radically changed when he responded to Jesus’ command to follow Him. On that day, by the Sea of Galilee, Simon Peter obeyed the Lord immediately. Along with his brother, Andrew, he left his net and went with Jesus to become fishers of men (Mark 1:16-17).

Peter, like every disciple of Jesus was not without sin. In fact, scripture details many of his failures. (Poor guy!)

  • He sank when walking on the water.
  • He refused to believe, when Jesus said He would be crucified and resurrected on the third day.
  • Jesus rebuked Satan in him.
  • He told Jesus he couldn’t wash his feet (then he begged him to clean his hands and head too!)
  • He cut a man’s ear off.
  • He denied knowing Jesus. Three times.

But, Jesus.

Jesus.

When Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, He redeemed Peter’s denials by asking if he loved Him. Three times. And He gave Peter- the apostle- his assignment:

Feed My lambs.

Take care of My sheep.

Feed My sheep.

Then the Savior of the world once again commanded Peter to follow Him (John 2:19). After waiting for the gift Jesus promised, Peter was baptized with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and received power to fulfill his mission. Peter obeyed immediately.

Peter was a follower who became a disciple of Jesus. He ate, drank, walked, talked, and asked questions of the Lord. He received instruction, correction, rebuke, & training. Yes. Peter screwed up. Yes. Peter sinned. Yes. Peter returned to Jesus. And, yes. Peter was forgiven.

During his discipleship journey with the Savior, Peter learned to be a slave. Not a slave who is abused, but one who knows and submits to their Master, regardless of the cost. Peter remained a slave as he began his ministry as an apostle.

Follower.

Disciple.

Slave.

Apostle.

Follower? Today’s church gets excited about following Jesus to find out what He can do for us. Who wouldn’t want to be healed, raised from the dead, or free from demons? As a follower, we may see the miracles that glorify the Father in heaven, but what we really want is for them to benefit us here on earth.

Follower?

Sure.

Disciple? Well…that’s gonna require more than just a Sunday morning experience. Do we really want the Holy Spirit to fill us with His power? Sounds a bit scary. We couldn’t be in control. I mean, common’ – we may look like drunk idiots to people around us if we start speaking in unknown tongues or prophesying! Being a disciple means we’d have to drop our nets that may be full of all kinds of “fish” that we worship (spouse, kids, hobbies, that brand new car, social media, our intellect, our beauty). Disciples eat, drink, walk, talk and ask questions of the Lord. Disciples receive instruction, correction, rebuke, & training.

Disciple?

Too hard.

Slave? Um…..seriously? A slave gives up all their rights to the Master. Their flesh is crucified. They choose to obey- regardless of the cost. They submit willingly to the One who bought them at a high price. A slave serves their Master, until death.

Slave?

Impossible.

Apostle? Well…the bible tells us to “go, make disciples.” We’re supposed to DO the work of the ministry, right? God has given us gifts to accomplish it. Jesus said we’d cast out demons and heal the sick – these things and more! The truth is, many may be called to ministry, but few choose to follow Peter’s example of being a slave and apostle. The many will be dumbfounded when they stand before the Judge and hear “depart from me….I never knew you,” instead of hearing “well done, good and faithful servant.”

Follower.

Disciple.

Slave.

and Apostle.

(in that order)

My friend,

Come, follow me, as I follow Jesus. I will show you how to eat, drink, walk, talk and ask questions of the Lord. I will show you how to receive instruction, correction, rebuke, & training. I will pray with you to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. I will walk beside you as a fellow disciple and slave. And we will become fishers of men, together. Ready to drop your net …and go?!

Pain, Desire & Struggle

Genesis 3:16-19 (NLT)

16 Then he said to the woman,

“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,

and in pain you will give birth.

And you will desire to control your husband,

but he will rule over you.[a]

17 And to the man he said,

“Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree

whose fruit I commanded you not to eat,

the ground is cursed because of you.

All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.

18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you,

though you will eat of its grains.

19 By the sweat of your brow

will you have food to eat

until you return to the ground

from which you were made.

For you were made from dust,

and to dust you will return.”

How well I know the curse of pain as a daughter of Eve. All my pregnancies produced physical and emotional suffering in my body and soul. I delivered one daughter without drugs, but ALL our children caused indescribable pain when I gave birth.

How well I know the desire to control my husband. As a newlywed, I believed I was to share “the pants,” in order to rule and reign together as head of the family. In my rebelliousness and brokenness I used my strong personality to gain control… and when my husband attempted to lead, I viciously attacked him with my words.

Then I met Jesus.

Jesus became the curse for me, a sinful daughter of Eve. He died not only to give me eternal life with my Father in heaven, but He also gives me abundant life in Him on earth! No longer am I enslaved to the curse. I am a daughter of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Yet, sometimes, unfortunately….I still listen to that slithering, sneaky snake.

Jesus said in this world, I will have trouble.

Pain will still occur.

Desire to control will still rise up.

But, Jesus.

Jesus.

When I choose to trust Jesus, instead of the enemy, I receive God’s blessing: abundant life! I am comforted in pain. I know that He is in control. I submit to my husband, as unto the Lord. And even if my husband doesn’t love me as Christ loved the church, I feel how wide, how deep, how high, my Father’s love is for me.

cropped-IMG_2982.jpgFor more than 20 years I’ve watched my husband scratch a living. By the sweat of his brow, he has provided food for our family each day. As a son of Adam, the curse proclaimed over his life is different than mine. It affects his work mentality. Mine affects my relationships with him and our children. Regardless, if either of us chooses to submit to the enemy, the same result occurs: death.

If I am deceived, and my husband listens to me, and we both eat the forbidden fruit, spiritual and emotional death separates us from God- and one another.

Does that mean its all my fault?

No.

I am accountable for my sin- not my husbands, not my children’s. Mine.

My husband is accountable for his.

When a husband listens and obeys God’s commands, he finds his identity in the One who formed him from the dust of the earth. His work is not who he is. He is a son of God.

When a wife listens and obeys God’s commands, she finds her identity in the One who formed her from man for man. Her role of mother and wife are not who she is. She is a daughter of God.

Who are you listening to?

Who are you obeying?

Who are you choosing?

I choose life.

I choose the way.

I choose the truth.

I choose Jesus.

Today’s Trouble

Matthew 6:25-34

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

IMG_5157This morning, as I walked through our unfinished kitchen to make myself a cup of strong coffee I laughed as I looked out the window and saw large snowflakes cascading down from heaven. “20% chance, huh?” I said to myself. “Well, GREAT- I suppose this means the contractor and cabinet installer won’t be coming to finish the job today!!!”

As the text messages and emails began coming in, confirming my assumptions that everything was cancelled, I continued to try to laugh off the worry creeping into my mind. “Will this renovation ever end? When and how am I going to reschedule all this stuff….I’m already over booked as it is!!!”

Pause.

Retreat to my secret place to read His Word and talk to Him.

Ok. All better.

Really?

No.

I then picked up the book my mom recently loaned me and began reading another chapter of Kay Warren’s “Choose Joy Because Happiness Isn’t Enough.” I even stopped to type, print, and post the following quote on our dry erase board to convince myself to stop worrying:

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”

Ok. All better.

Really?

No.

I went back to the kitchen (did I mention, its still not finished, after nearly 6 weeks?!?) for a snack and to gaze out the window at the beauty of His creation, covered in a blanket of white. With a full tummy, I returned to my secret place to watch the little birds hopping around the backyard, pecking through the snow for their snack. Then it hit me:

LOOK AT THE BIRDS!!!! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (emphasis mine)

Why do I worry? It’s because I don’t trust God. Instead, I rebel against Him by allowing my fear (fear of losing valuable time, fear of not being able to get everything done, fear of disappointing others, fear of losing control of….everything!!!) to dominate my mind, will and emotions. But yet, even though I continue to sin against My Father, He takes the time out of His VERY busy schedule to show me, through the majesty of His creation, that I am far more valuable to Him than the little birds.

As the revelation of His truth began melting into my soul, like the snowflakes that will soon disappear when the temperature begins to rise, I realized that tomorrow will bring enough worries of its own. So, today I choose to sit right here in my secret place and stare out the window at the millions of tiny snowflakes lying all over our yard and praise the One who continues to remind me to trust Him…..in everything.