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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.

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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.”

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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

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She Laughs

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

 

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)!

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The 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

Coram Deo

I beseech you therefore…by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:1&2

 

School is now in session at our home! With kids having gone back to school a couple of weeks ago, we’ve continued to enjoy the empty parks, pools, and public places. But as of Monday, our home’s school, Coram Deo Home Academy, has officially begun its academic year.

 

I thought a lot about what to name our school. When I was a kid, my parents named ours Rocky Mountain Christian Academy. My husband’s parents named theirs Emerald Christian School. (We were both homeschooled, as well.) I wanted something unique, something that reflected our values, our way of life, who we are, what we are. I put a few things in a homeschool name generator, asked a few people what they named theirs, and prayed a lot about it. Then I found it: Coram Deo.

 

I loved the sight of it. I loved the sound of it. And my heart already knew it.

 

The word coram comes from the Latin word cora, meaning the pupil of the eye. Deo is the Latin word for God. In the words of R.C. Sproul, “Coram Deo captures the essence of the Christian life.” A Latin phrase translated in the presence of God, it “literally refers to something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. To live Coram Deo is to live one’s life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.”

Three days after our daughter was born, I sat in our living room as she lie peacefully on lap. My eyes could not leave her. She was perfect, precious, full of beauty and mystery. I sat and basked in her Creator’s glory. I began to talk to the Lord. I asked questions, I poured out praise, I sought advice, I rambled dreams. Then I stopped to listen.

 

His answer was Coram Deo. I didn’t know the words at the time, but He showed me the life. “Live before My face. Stay close enough to Me to hear My still, small voice, and I will guide you with My eye,” He said.

 

I have. He has.

 

To live Coram Deo is to live with an understanding that wherever and whenever and whatever we do, we are acting under the steady gaze of the Lord. To consciously live fully and completely in the presence of God is not reluctant compliance for fear of punishment, rather recognizing that to live as an honorable offering to God is our highest goal and greatest joy. To live Coram Deo decrees that there is no degree of separation between our thoughts and actions and God. “It is a life of wholeness that finds its unity and coherency in the majesty of God.”

 

Both emancipating and challenging, Coram Deo means there is nothing that is secular because all is sacred, and God is Lord of all. Serving and glorifying God takes its form in academics, parenthood, politics, service, speech, worship, and work. Faith and faithfulness penetrate each area of life and living. Grasping this concept breaks down the walls we’ve built around certain parts of our life, the ones we view as pedestrian, illegitimate, raw, or common, and presents them all to God for His glory.

 

Sisters, this is our call: Coram Deo. Before the face of God. All is seen; nothing’s hidden. Everything sacred – everything His. Living all our life in His presence, under His authority, and to His honor and glory.

 

In His name and for His glory, Jodi Greene

Strive To Seek Him Always

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. (3)

It’s that time of the month again. The time when I head to the coffee shop, get a cup of my favorite coffee and sit down to write my monthly post for the Sister’s Blog. Normally, I’ve been mulling over a few ideas for a week or so. I have a pretty good idea of what I’m going to write, and a list of verses that might match that post.

This month? I’ve got nothing. I could blame it on my month long vacation, where my daughter is staying out of state with her grandparents. Or that my husband has been applying for jobs lately, some that could cause a move across the state.

But I won’t. I’ll be honest. My life is a mess lately. My beloved planner has sat on the bookshelf, not in its proper place in my purse. My phone alarms and alerts have been turned off. I forget things more than I normally do. My weekly grocery shopping has turned into a daily trip to Walmart where I wander the aisles until something sounds good to make for dinner. I’m not where I should be. And I know exactly what it is. I’ve not been in the Word lately. I’ve not been praying like I should. I’ve been complacent.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. (2)

In the lazy days of summer, I let what should be my number one priority slip. I spent my days sitting in the sun reading, listening to music. I took my daughter to the zoo, and the park. We slept in. We took naps. We spent time we should’ve been spending with our Father just being lazy. See, when I am faithful about reading God’s Word on a daily basis? When my prayer life is strong? Then I am a more organized person. Everything in my life seems to fall into place.

Sure, things come at me. 18 months ago my husband unexpectedly lost his job. But I was daily in the Word and I knew that God had us. I knew that he would provide, so I faithfully kept reading and praying and walking.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

But the past month? I’ve been lazy. I’ve read my Bible a handful of times. I’ve finished a Bible Study, out of obligation to return the book to the lender. But that’s it. I’ve just barely been keeping afloat.

And here’s the thing. I know how to fix this.

So I’m asking you, my Sisters in Christ, to help me! Join me this next month, to grab our Bibles daily. To jump into the Word and let God speak to us as he wants to. Join me in strengthening our prayer lives!

This time of year is absolutely perfect for this. As kids are heading back to school and summer vacation is winding down? Let’s pull ourselves up and head back into this school year the way that we’re supposed to! Armed with the Word of God!

So reach out, grab another Sister and help each other stay accountable! (This can be as simple as a text each day asking if you’ve been reading, praying, doing whatever it is you need to work on!) I’ll even help us all out and start an accountability post in our FWC Sister’s Community!

 

-Jacque; Hebrews 6:19

Fear and Wisdom

“The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.”

Proverbs 19:8

Wisdom.

King Solomon’s glory pales in comparison to it. Do you want to be wise? Do you run after wisdom? Here at my house this week, I feel like I’m running a marathon toward it.

This is my dining room table today:

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I’m preparing to dive in.

Another homeschooling year is about to begin. The kids and I are starting from the beginning. We are searching for wisdom and knowledge on the pages of theses books, and many others.

But where does true wisdom come from?

Before I open the books, and start teaching my kids about ancient things, they need to hear this one:

Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.”

All my reading and preparing and studying is in vain if I don’t have a foundation. Book knowledge is worthless without this strong foundation. The firm foundation is my heart’s attitude toward my Creator. Do I respect Him? Do I have a grasp of His greatness? If we believe the Word, we see that fearing the Lord is crucial to becoming wise.

It is my prayer that we will have a holy fear of the Lord. After we fear and respect Him, He lavishes us with the good gifts of wisdom that only He can give. He’s the only source.

Let me be clear, as believers we’re not to be afraid of our Father. Quite the opposite, we have a reverent respect for the Maker of the universe. The God who made us, sees us, and gives grace is to be respected. He is to be honored and worshipped. His name is meant to be lifted high and given glory.

Out of the knowledge of who He is, and the belief and acceptance of what He did, springs the “fear” and reverence of a soul, saved by grace.

Proverbs 9:10
“Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.”

I challenge you, my friends, along with myself, and my children, to be wiser than any book can ever teach us to be! Be spiritually wise, and  fear God. If we embrace this fear, wisdom will be close at hand!

Writing in answer to His call,

Hosanna Barton

Let Freedom Ring

It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

 

Monday, we celebrated the fourth of July, America’s Independence Day. And, oh, did we celebrate! Family and friends gathered in our home, splashed in our pool, and spread chairs on our front lawn to join in on our nation’s birthday party. Fireworks split the darkness with red, white, and blue flashes. Booms and crackles and pops gave a collective and enthusiastic ovation to independence, and sulfur billowed into the night air, smelling of liberty. It was a wonderful evening. Even long after the company left and the child slumbered, my husband and I stayed up, soaking in the wonders of freedom.

 

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photo credit: pixabay.com

 

But soon enough, July 4th’s fanfare turned into July 5th’s return to burdens and yokes and wrongdoings. Our nation received a back-handed blow of injustice by the very people charged with ensuring justice. A battle rages. “Liberty and justice for all” now rings hollow. The cornerstone of America’s liberty is crumbling because we’ve forgotten as a country why and to what we were set free: Freedom.

 

Like America, we as Christians have been given freedom. Our freedom, though, came through Christ’s blood alone. Our Savior bled and died and rose again to secure our liberty once for all, “blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us…and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross” (Colossians 2:14)! Freedom. Beautiful, amazing, life-giving freedom! Oh, glorious day, when He took my sins away!

 

1 Peter 2:9 points out our unique position after having received Christ’s freedom: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” A free and holy people living in the light of freedom only God can provide. But like America, too, it can be easy to fall back into the burden sin by believing the lie that we are safer under a yoke of slavery.

 

Galatians chapter 5, verse one, written out at the beginning of this post, is both a statement of accomplishment and a goal for which we are to strive. It provides us with not only the reason God in Christ set us free, but also the way to remain free: Don’t return to slavery, stand firm! “As you therefore have received Christ, Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,” Paul tells us in Colossians. We have not liberated ourselves; our liberty has been bought at a price we could not afford to pay. Christ paid for our freedom and it is finished. But having received our freedom, it becomes our goal, our passion, and, in part, our responsibility to remain a free people, not returning to the bonds and shackles that held us as slaves.

 

Matthew Henry, a 17th century pastor and Bible commentator, wrote, “Christ will not be the Saviour of any who will not own and rely upon Him as their only Saviour. Let us take heed to the warnings and persuasions of the apostle to steadfastness in the doctrine and liberty of the gospel.” When set in the freedom given through Christ, our hearts are given the liberty to run after that which gives us delight: “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). But when enslaved again by sin, both liberty and delight are snuffed out: “…my whole body is sick; my health is broken because of my sins. My guilt overwhelms me – it is too heavy to bear…I am on the verge of collapse” (Psalm 38:3,4,17).

 

So how do we remain free? How do we take hold of our liberty, our independence from sin, and walk in freedom? It frustrates me greatly when I’m told to do something but never given the roadmap, the instructions, the guide on how to accomplish my responsibilities. Look with me at a few verses in 2 Corinthians:

 

Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit…” 2 Corinthians 3:16, 17, & 18, Berean Study Bible download (emphasis mine)

 

Where His Spirit dwells and reigns, forever freedom is found. Ladies, stay in His presence, because there alone is freedom. Bask in His praises, seek His face, bathe in His Word, obey His commands, breathe in His essence, and learn of Him – this is how we live as free women.

 

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photo credit: pixabay.com

 

One commentary on 2 Corinthians 3:17 put it beautifully: “We behold Christ, as in the glass of His Word; and as the reflection from a mirror causes the face to shine, the faces of Christians shine also.”

 

When we read the Word of God, we shine with the light of freedom. When we commit our way unto Him (Prov 16:3), we shine with the light of freedom. When we praise and worship Him in His holiness, He inhabits those praises (Ps 22:3), and we shine with the light of freedom. When we draw near to God, He draws near to us (James 4:8), and we shine with the light of freedom. When we submit ourselves to God and resist the devil (James 4:7), we shine with the light of freedom. When we cast our cares upon the One who cares for us (1 Peter 5:7), we shine with the light of freedom. When we use our freedom not as an opportunity for the flesh but for service and love (Gal 5:13), we shine with the light of freedom. When we spend time in His glorious presence (Exodus 34:35), we shine with the light of freedom.

 

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, Sisters, there is freedom. Let us not be burdened again by the yoke of slavery. Dwell in His Spirit, and let freedom ring.

 

In His name and for His glory, Jodi Greene