Idol Numero Uno

Idolatry is struck down with the very first commandment: Thou shalt have no other gods before Me (Exodus 20:3). And boy, howdy, there are idols aplenty. Gather a few girls in a group and ask for a list of idols and it grows long in a hurry. But what is our number one idol today? A hint – it hasn’t changed since the beginning of time.

ten-commandments

photo credit: freedomoffaith.tripod.com

Self is the number one idol. “I want what I want when I want it. Consequences be hanged.” Self breeds rebellion and pride against God and sets up substitutes for God in our hearts and lives.

 

What was the very first sin? In a short narrative in Isaiah 14, we read five times that Lucifer said in his heart “I will. I will be like God.” And he was thrown out of heaven. He used that very self-issue against Eve in the garden: “In the day you eat of that tree, you will be as gods.” Governed by self-will. No bowing to God or anyone else.

 

God later pleads with Israel: “Remember the commandments of the Lord, and do them. Seek not after your own heart to go into idolatry, but do My commandments and be holy” (Numbers 15:39&40).

 

For every self-idol mankind sets up, God offers cleansing and a holy choice instead. To every one who chooses the way that seems right but ends in death, God calls out “this is the way, walk in it.”

 

When Self-Righteousness rears its ugly head, it says “I’m good enough on my own. I’ll get to heaven by good works. I’m not so bad!” But God proclaims His Name – The Lord Our Righteousness. All our righteousness is as filthy rags. Dressed in His righteousness alone will we be able to stand faultless before His throne.

 

Self-Sufficiency says, “I can do it! I don’t need any help, or advice, or instruction. I’ve got this covered.” God says, “I AM Jehovah-Jireh. The grace I provide you is sufficient. It’s better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. Worship God and rejoice in Christ, and have no confidence in the flesh. But be confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ!” “The arm of flesh will fail you; you dare not trust your own,” the hymn-writer warned.

 

Self-Defense is a touchy one, isn’t it? “I’m no worse than anyone else, and really, what I did wasn’t so bad. There are extenuating circumstances you don’t know about. It wasn’t really my fault at all.” Self-Defense is a poor resting place when Infinity is offered. David said, “God is my Defense.” Paul wrote, “The Lord stood with me, and strengthened me.” John tells us that “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” He’s at God’s right hand and by our side to defend us! Jehovah-Nissi. God is our Protector, Strength, and Victory.

 

Self-Indulgence proudly proclaims, “I’ve worked hard and I deserve it! Who deserves it more than I? I will not be deprived.” But Paul wrote, “Don’t trust in uncertain things, but in the Living God Who gives us richly all things to enjoy.” Luke stated that God fills the hungry with good things. David reminds us that those who seek God lack no good thing. Jesus said He came that we might have life abundant! Paul tells us that God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think!” Wow! Women can think up some pretty abundant stuff. But God’s not trapped by our thoughts. He can exceed abundant!

 

Self-Seeking gets a lot of attention. Who hasn’t heard a rendition of this? “You’ve got to take care of yourself. Look out for Number One. No one else is going to!” But God says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things you need shall be added to you.” “For my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus”!!! Hallelujah! The one set of footprints is real, Girls.

 

Self-Consciousness is a strange one. When God calls, Self-Consciousness bows its head, kicks the dirt, and responds, “I can’t.” Within Moses, Self-Consciousness cries, “Who am I to do that? They won’t believe me. I’m not eloquent. I can’t do what You’re asking, God. Send someone else.” But God says, “My grace is sufficient for thee, made perfect in your weakness. Commit your work to Me, and I’ll help you think. Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not, neither is weary. He gives power to the faint, and to them that have no might He increases strength. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” Sing with me – “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me!”

 

Self can never be anything but hateful to God, Tozer states. Self is the enemy of God. And the only safe course with this enemy is death. To be rid of self, we come to the cross. “I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me. And the life which I now live in this body, I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”

cross

Photo credit: johnsanidopoulous.com

Read the old song lines with me: “Let me lose myself and find it, Lord, in Thee. May all self be slain; my friends see only Thee. Though it cost me grief and pain, I will find my life again – if I lose myself, I’ll find it, Lord, in Thee.”

 

Paul wrote, “It is a faithful saying, if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him.” We must be crucified with Christ that we may live a life pleasing to the Lord. Death to self is the way to life.

 

Jamie Lucero

1 Timothy 1:17

Give It To God

give-it-to-god

“Give it to God”

What does that even mean?? This has been one of my biggest struggles in my walk as a Christian, and also one of my biggest annoyances.

Just last week I was sitting with a group of friends when someone told my best friend (who is in the midst of a storm that doesn’t seem to ever end) “Just give it to God.” I rolled my eyes. I’m a little too good at that these days.

See, we live these double lives. We live in the World, in the flesh. But we also live with Christ. And some days? This balancing act is just too much. Our ultimate goal is that our relationship with Christ will win out, but all too often the battle of the flesh wins. And this is when we need to do just that, give it to God.

so-do-not-fear-for-i-am-with-you-do-not-be-dismayed

Isaiah 41:10 shows us that we should not fear or be dismayed for he will strengthen us. Which is great. But how? How do I let go of these worldly struggles and just hand it to him?

Sure, I can sit down in my comfy chair and close my eyes and start to pray. I can tell God about my problem, that comes easily. I can ask him to handle my problem. That comes easily too. But once I’m done with that prayer? I so often pick that problem right back up and start fighting with it. (So I gave it to Him, but then I took it back. How frustrating that must be for Him!! When the answer is so simple, LEAVE IT!!)

Once I had a wise woman tell me that she would visualize herself handing Jesus a box with whatever her problem was inside. That really resonated with me, because I’m a visual person. But I took it a step farther.

When I am truly struggling? I leave everything behind and get alone with God. (Often, this involves a small hike.) I’ll find a tree to sit and rest against, and I’ll pray. I’ll pour my heart out to God. Then I’ll just sit for a bit, with my eyes closed.

matthew-1128

I will imagine the tree at my back is the cross, and that Christ is standing before me. (Matthew 11:28 reminds us to come to Him when we are weary and He will give us rest.) I hand him my box, inside is whatever my problem may be. And he will take it, set it at the base of the cross and at that moment I know he has the situation in control. And I know, with all that is in me that I need to leave it with him. I cannot pick that box back up.

Once I’ve reflected for a bit? I walk away. Remembering in my mind the image of my box of junk sitting at the foot of the Cross. (If it’s a HUGE problem? I’ll find a small stick on the ground and take it with me. Carrying that stick in my pocket will be a reminder of the box I left at the cross.)

Is it a bit cheesy? Maybe. But for me, this visual exercise really helps me to leave these problems with God. Sure, I’ll continue to pray about them. But holding that small twig in my hand, will remind me that I need to just say a quick prayer, and remember that I’ve left that problem with God. I can’t interfere with his work, or he won’t be able to do his work with me bumbling around!

So yes, it’s often a struggle to “Give it to God” – but it’s clearly what scripture tells us to do. With prayer, the Word and a few little moments of quiet time? We can give Him all of our problems, and then wait patiently for instruction from him on where to go next.

 

-Jacque
Hebrews 4:16

Football

john-football

Wow, I can’t believe that picture was taken 20 years ago.  John is skinny, as a rail now, and wears his hair cropped short.  My son John really didn’t like to play football.  But, for me, he did play one season of football when he was in Jr. High school out in Ellicott.

Football season has begun, and many of us in Colorado were delighted with the game last Sunday.  The Broncos’ recovery of the fumble the other team made, was a highlight of the game for me.

Football teams study videos of the team they are going to play against.  In that way they learn the strengths and weakness of the other team, and strengths of certain players on that team. They learn to recognize certain plays, so that they can anticipate, and outmaneuver their opponent.

2 Corinthians 2:11 says “we are not ignorant of his (the devil’s) schemes.”  We Christians need to know things about our opponent.   If we don’t recognize him, if we are ignorant of his schemes, he can, and will take advantage of us.  That word advantage, in this verse, is a Greek word meaning to step beyond the boundary line.   So you see, that it is even more important for us, who know JESUS, to know our enemy’s tactics,  than for a football team to know their opponents  moves.  They are just playing a game, but we are fighting a war.

I remember a time, when I was 1st learning about spiritual warfare.  When I was being tempted to do wrong, inside me, I was impressed with the thought, “It’s the battle, Sharon.”  Until then, I thought the temptation came just from myself, and so I wasn’t fighting against it that much.  Because, I figured, I couldn’t fight myself and win.  But, GOD took pity on me, and spoke to me, “It is the battle, Sharon.”  I knew then that the temptation came from the outside, from the devil, and  not me, so I fought back, denied my flesh, and won.

I was losing the battle, until I knew I was dealing with the enemy.  Now, I realize how very important it is to recognize the enemy.

Let me list for you just a few of our enemy’s ways, that I have learned:
The devil tempts us, as he did JESUS, by twisting scripture (Luke 4:1-13).
He calls GOD a liar, and says GOD is unfair- not caring for us, or trying to keep good things back from us. Genesis 3:4,5
He tempts us to love this world and the things of this world, for the whole world lies in his arms (I John 5:19).

He tempts us:
with the desires of our flesh: To go beyond God’s preset boundaries for food, sex, pleasures, drugs and so on.                                                                                                                          with the desire for things we see: like a new car, a fancy this or that, something belonging to our neighbor, anything that looks good to us.
with pride: I’m 1st, my way, power, position and the like (I John 2:15-16).
He attempts to take advantage of us, by pretending the things he tells us are our own thoughts, and he is quite the impersonator.
He lies, actually, he is the father of lies and very convincing (John 8:44).
He whispers doubts and accusing thoughts to us, about ourselves, and others, (and his words sound just like us) for he is the accuser (Revelation 12:10).
He tries to stir up anger, and cause division. When we refuse to forgive, at his constant grumbling in our ear about an offense, he takes advantage of us, and gains a foothold in our lives (2 Corinthians 2:10-11, Ephesians 4:26-27).

Today I want to highlight one specific scheme of the devil.

“But, I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, so your minds (thoughts) may be corrupted (seduced/led astray) from the simplicity, and purity that is in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3 explanations added in parenthesis).

We know that JESUS is pure and holy, and our focus should be on HIM, for HE is the object of our faith and the ONE leading us the way we should go (Hebrews 12:1-3).  The enemy, however, attempts to distract us, and get us to focus on anything rather than JESUS.  He tries to corrupt our thinking, from the simplicity of going straight to Christ about everything (Proverbs 3:5-7a), so that we will struggle on our own with the thoughts, and problems, and temptations that come our way.  For instance, he gets people to feel that believing in JESUS just isn’t enough to save us.  He insists there is a whole bunch of other things they must do in order to be saved.

In a practical way, the simplicity of going to JESUS helps me.  Since our battle begins in the mind, we must battle wrong thoughts given us by the devil.  Often the devil mocks us for having the thoughts he placed there to begin with.

lure

Those thoughts, like a colorful lure attracting a trout, can seem overpowering.  I have found that to win that battle, to shut up the devil, I don’t do the fighting.  I simply go to JESUS, and say “here are my thoughts.”  As I take every thought to JESUS, HE impresses on me a piece of a verse that shows me a different perspective of the situation, the truth.  Then, the moment I inwardly choose to obey the instruction within that word, HE floods me HIS peace as confirmation.  Actually, just being in HIS Presence, seems to open me up to hear.  This is what I mean when I say  I talk to JESUS about struggles.  It is what the Word of GOD instructs me to (Proverbs 3:5-7; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Hebrews 4:16).  For  JESUS takes my thoughts, and exposes them for what they are.  My whole perspective changes.   The battle is won, for what a person thinks in his heart, that he will eventually act on.   Now, the devil may give me another sneak attack, but, all I have to do is run back to JESUS.

Don’t let the devil catch you in his snare of deception.  Take every thought to JESUS.
Looking unto JESUS, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.
Hugs
Sharon

The whole earth is filled with HIS glory.

sunrise

The whole earth is filled with GOD’s glory (Isaiah 6:3). I, especially, love the colors of the sunrises and sunsets enhanced by their reflection off clouds. I delight in gazing at the sky at night, marveling at the synchronization of the heavenly bodies that GOD flung into space, when by a mere word HE spoke it all into existence (Genesis 1:14-18).

But sometimes, I don’t love the things that seem to be flung into my life.

This morning reading in those awe-inspiring chapters of Isaiah 40-45, I came to Isaiah 45:9 and was reminded not to argue with GOD. I need to acknowledge the the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY, our Creator, is in charge.

“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker?   Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying,  Stop! YOU’re doing it wrong!’  Does the pot exclaim,  ‘How clumsy can you be?’ (Isaiah 45: 9).

That is how I felt this morning before dawn. I wanted to say, “It is all wrong! The timing is off, something has to be done!” But then, I looked to the heavens displaying GOD’s perfect order, with the flair of beauty. I thought of my Creator and Savior, peace returned, and I began to pray.

HE impressed my heart with a word, “There is a reason.” That simple word, stirred up my faith, and I was strengthened, and encouraged (Romans 10:17). Peace returned, joy bubbled up, and a song rose in my heart!

Won’t you join me in praising the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY, for HE created all things, and by HIS will they exist and were created (Revelation 4:11).

Just think, you, and I, exist solely because that is what GOD wanted, and HE knows what HE is doing.

Looking unto JESUS, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.

hugs

Sharon

Listen

listening-to-god

Many years ago, my sister, Carol the artist, sent me this picture on a birthday card.  She wrote within, “This picture looks just like you did when you were a young girl.  I like especially that she is listening to the sea shell.  It reminds me of you listening to GOD.”

Those words touched me deeply, and convicted me.  I keep the picture on my dresser, to remind me to always listen to GOD.

It is so easy to just go lay our requests at GOD’s feet, and then get busy doing other things. GOD wants more. HE wants me to acknowledge HIM in everything (Proverbs 3:5-7).  HIS desire is for me (and you too) to discuss everything with HIM, and then follow though to do what HE impresses on me to do.

There are so many things we don’t know, but GOD does.  HE knows it all, past, present and even what will happen tomorrow.

Isaiah 28:26, 28-29 speaks of GOD as teaching the farmer. It says that the farmer knows what to do, for GOD has made him see and understand what he should do.  GOD gives detailed instructions of how different things need to be handled in different ways. Verse 29 sums it up,  “The LORD of Hosts is a wonderful teacher and gives wisdom.”

Last week, I spoke to the LORD, in the morning, about a problem I didn’t know how to handle.  HE didn’t respond right then, but knowing HIS promise to give me wisdom, I left the request with HIM, claiming HIS promise to give me what I needed.  That afternoon, two gals, not knowing the need, opened the door for me to be part of the answer of my own request.  But, the kicker came the next morning, when another friend, not knowing the problem, nor what had transpired with the two, opened yet another door, just like the two had the day before.  In that way I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, what GOD wanted me to do.

Do you have a problem or challenge, and not sure what to do? Ask of GOD, who gives to all generously, without scolding, or bringing up the past.  GOD promises to show you. But be sure you ask expecting GOD to answer, and be willing to do as HE says.  If you don’t really expect HIM to answer, or are only willing to accept an answer that makes sense to you, you’ll be greatly disappointed, for HE won’t tell you anything (James 1:5-8).

Looking unto JESUS, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.

hugs
Sharon

She Laughs

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” Proverbs 31:25

joy-of-life-654536_960_720

She laughs. I don’t know about you, but the political, social, and spiritual state of our country leaves me with little desire to laugh these days. Christianity is on trial around every corner. Politicians mock, kill, curse, lie, and cheat at every opportunity. Abortion ravages our children. Riots bloody our streets.

While Proverbs 31 is a timely description of a virtuous woman in those days, its general idea equally suits every time and place. Every day, every age, every woman faces genuine concern over what is happening in her world and how it will affect her children and her future. Concern, as a matter of analyzing events and effecting change, is healthy and God-given (Luke 10:25-37). But left unchecked, concern often creeps its way into anxious fear, and fear is neither healthy nor God-given (2 Tim 1:7).

Oh, how Satan desires us to fear the future! If we’re fearing the future, ladies, we’re not stepping out in faith to change it. We instead become pawns in the enemy’s game to stir up more fear and spread it to others. Sisters, our future does not dangle from the finger of the enemy, but instead is held secure by the Creator of heaven and earth who seals us with His Spirit (Eph 1:13)!

school-girl-473096_960_720The strength and dignity with which women of God are clothed is found in the joy of the Lord (Neh 8:10), filling us with peace that surpasses understanding and mounts guard over our hearts and minds (Phil 4:7). We can laugh without fear because we know the Lord Himself stands at our side, strengthening us to fully share the Good News of Jesus Christ (2 Tim 4:17).

What a vibrant, holy, shining life we would live if all we feared was the Lord Himself (Ps 11:10; Prov 9:10), revering His name, His love, and His mercy, and laughed without fear for the future!

Troubles come – that’s guaranteed. But it’s those very troubles that produce the fruit that produces the joy of the Lord that is our strength. Don’t strive against trials and tribulations. Glory in them (Rom 5:3). Count them joy (Ja 1:2-3). Allow them to do their full work, and then the genuineness of our faith will be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:7).

Fear not evil, Sisters, for the Lord is with us (Ps 23:4). He fills our mouth with laughter and our lips with shouts of joy (Job 8:21). She who is clothed with strength and dignity laughs at the time to come. Go ahead, laugh, for the Lord has done great things for you (Ps 126:2)!

In His name and for His glory, Jodi Greene

The bear

ride

While out in Northern California our life-long friend, Alan, took us for a day of four-wheeling up dirt roads in Plumas National Forest.  It is beautiful country, and we saw many interesting things.  We went up to a rickety lookout shack.  The steps up to it, were crumbling, and I slipped once going up.  Therefore, I didn’t go into the actual outlook station, feeling it a bit too risky.  Before World War II, there were five or six of those lookouts on various mountain tops.  They were manned, 24 x 7 to watch for forest fires.  With communication between the outlooks, any forest fire would be spotted, the location could be calculated, and given to the fire fighters.

guys waiting

The guys were waiting for me, as I climbed down from what was left of that old outlook station.

al n me

As we took off, naturally Alan led in one fourwheeler, because he knew where he was taking us.  With the maze of  logging roads on the mountain side, one sure could get lost easily.  Since Alan’s fourwheeler had room for two, I rode with him.  Mac brought up the rear, so he hung back, as not to eat as much dust.  Not long after leaving the base of the outlook station, Mac slowed a bit because of the rocks, and gullies in the road, from water runoff.  He felt more than saw some movement off to his left, but was concentrating on maneuvering the four wheeler.  So when, suddenly a bear loped hurriedly cater-corner across his path, not ten feet in front of him, it really shook Mac up.  He described the bear as having all four legs stretched out as he lunged hurriedly past him.  It happened so fast.  As soon as it was gone, Mac gunned the four wheeler, and flew to catch up with us.  Mac figures the bear must have been scared by the biker, or truck, who were still up at the lookout when we left, for he was running lickety split from something, running for all he was worth.

Alan stopped at a fork in the road, to wait for Mac to catch up.  That was the only way that Mac could know which road to take.  It wasn’t long before Mac came flying around the bend.

coming round the bend

His near tangle with the bear had left him breathless!  As the words tumbled out of his mouth, I heard my husband excitedly relate his adventure with the bear.  I was silently green with envy.  I whispered to the LORD, “I know its childish, but I wish I could have seen the bear.”

Alan took off again, and not ten minutes later, we spotted, what Alan said, was the biggest bear he’d ever seen.  It was causally ambling down the middle of the dirt road, maybe thirty feet in front of us.  He was a beautiful creature, cinnamon brown, with cream colored fur across his neck and upper back, almost like a mane.  The moment he spotted us, that fat bundle of fur, turned and was gone up the bank.  It was almost straight up on that side of the road, but there was no trace of him as we passed by.

bear2

I was so excited! GOD had given me my desire, and let me see a real live bear, in his own habitat.  Alan laughed at my animation.  But when GOD gives you a desire of your heart, it is absolutely thrilling!

Once more, I found GOD’s word is true.  “No good thing will GOD withhold from them who walk uprightly” (Psalm 34:11). So, my friends, “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and HE shall give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).

Looking unto JESUS, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.

Hugs

Sharon