"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
February 2, 2011
This week is part two, concluding last week's devotional. Last week I wrote about the need to become more like Jesus, and what that means. What initially started me thinking about that is a story my sister shared about Devin. I won't repeat it, but basically he got into trouble for lying and was told that the devil likes us to lie but God likes us to be honest. He was then asked if he wanted to be like God or the devil. Devin emphatically answered, "THE DEVIL!"
In addition to this, I had recently heard a series of sermons that had caught my attention and started me thinking. I had been meditating on them and repenting of sins and slackness I had allowed into my life.
Our pastor preached a couple sermons entitled "Prepared to live and to live is Christ" taken from Philippians 1:21. For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Another scripture that he used was Galatians 2:20. "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." I have heard that scripture all my life, but for some reason when I heard it this time it hit me between the eyes and I was greatly convicted.
"I (Loretta) no longer live, but Christ lives in me." What does this mean? It's a progression that begins at salvation. When we ask Jesus into our hearts and repent of our sins, we are no longer the sinful fleshly man that we were prior to this experience. Our goal should be to live in a manner that is pleasing to Christ. Our life's purpose should be for God to be glorified through us.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new."
When we repent, then Jesus comes to live within us. The old sinful man has been crucified and it's Christ that now lives in us.
1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 says, "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit; you are God's."
I have heard these scriptures for years but it was only as I was sitting in that Sunday morning service that the real significance of what that truly means came alive.
According to scripture, Christ lives within me. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, which resides inside of me. I'm not my own, but I belong to God. I'm a vessel for Him to dwell and reside in. The scripture says that I am to glorify God in my body and in my spirit. I'm not my own, but I am now God's temple; His dwelling place.
The responsibility of what that means is what convicted me and made me realized the seriousness of my salvation.
If Christ is living in me; my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in me; and since I am not my own but am God's then I need to be sure that I am being a good custodian of that dwelling place.
When I know someone is coming to my house, I make sure it is clean. I will dust, mop, vacuum, and do those extras that I don't do on an every day basis. If someone is eating a meal with us, I try to make sure that I cook something special that will be appreciated and enjoyed by all. But it's not only when someone is coming that I clean. I try to keep our house picked up and looking nice so that it is a restful place for my husband to come home from work and relax in. I pick up limbs as they fall in our yard in order to make it look as nice and manicured as possible. During mowing season I try to keep the grass mowed weekly. I want anyone who drives by our home to see that we're good caretakers of our home. I feel that how I keep our home is a reflection of my skills as a homemaker and housewife.
One of the things that I daily do that Jon still doesn't understand is make our bed. To his way of thinking, we're just going to get back in it each evening and mess it up, so why make it each morning? But that is something that I HAVE to do! When I wake up each day, one of the first things I'll do is make our bed. If we take a Sunday afternoon nap and get under the covers, I will undoubtably straighten the bed and basically remake it before getting back in it that evening. I like the feel of unwrinkled sheets and a freshly made bed.
I have to ask myself, do I take more care of my home and yard than I do caring for the "dwelling" where Christ and the Holy Spirit reside? I have to honestly answer that I often do. This house and yard are only temporal and will only bring satisfaction during those few years that we live here. But caring for my soul will have eternal benefits. Yet I spend more time and effort on those temporary things. I'm more interested in the here and now than I am in those things that will last for eternity. That shouldn't be! I have things backwards and need to get my priorities straight.
As I was sitting in church that Sunday morning I began to ask myself, "If Jesus is living in me, just how clean and comfortable am I making His dwelling place?" I began to think of my thought-life and realized that they weren't always thoughts I want present in God's "house". My attitudes are often ones that I would rather not be present with God dwelling inside me. I speak words that I wish God wasn't present to hear. Do I want Him to be "at home" inside me listening to each of my conversations? When He's in residence in my "temple" do I always treat others the way that would be pleasing to Him?
I have to honestly say that there are many times when I wish God would take a vacation and not be at home within me to see how I'm keeping my spiritual house.
I'd emphatically say that I'd rather be like God than the devil, but my life often betrays me and says otherwise. Read those words clearly, it doesn't say ask who I'd rather live for, but who I'd rather live like. And it's just a whole lot easier at times to be like the devil than God! If I'm being like that devil then I don't have to watch my words, how I treat people, my attitude, how I spend my time, etc. I can be a nice person, but still be ungodly.
Being like Jesus is constant work! It's not always fun, and I can't always say what I want about others, and I have to treat people kindly; even when they don't deserve it or when I don't feel like it. I have to nip pride, envy, and jealousy. I have to love everybody, even those who are difficult and hard to love. Instead of just going one mile with someone, I have to go two. And I have to turn the other cheek and forgive over and over. It may require me spending time with someone that I'd rather not be around. It will require me to be caring and considerate when my flesh wants to be hateful and rude.
It's so easy to think we're better people than what we really are, and have a high opinion of ourselves. We look at certain scriptures and think, "I don't commit adultery; I don't murder; I don't bow down and worship idols; I don't steal; and I don't covet."
But there are other scriptures that name sins we choose to ignore or forget. In Proverbs chapter 6 it lists seven sins "that the Lord hates". In the list is a proud look, a lying tongue, a false witness that speaks lies, one who sows discord, and feet that are swift to run to evil. How many of us have never been prideful? And we've all lied at one time or another; and if you say you've never ever told a lie, you're lying to yourself now! What about those times we've been told something about someone and we repeat it; but what we're saying is not 100% accurate? Perhaps we're speaking either the opinion of our own or someone else, without knowing all the facts. And if we ever speak negatively to others in our congregation about the pastor or another member of the congregation, are we not sowing discord?
There are other scriptures that also tell us to put foolish talking from us. We're told to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We're to be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving others as Christ forgives us. We're to not sin when we're angry. We're to not let corrupt words come out of our mouth, but only those words used for edification. We're not to gossip or speak negatively about others.
We should have faith as a mustard seed and believe without doubt. We're to stand on the promises of God, without wavering. We're to guard our tongue. We're to have the mind of Christ.
All this sounds impossible! It seems as if it would be way too hard, so why even try? Because it's worth working for! And there are eternal benefits as our reward if we succeed. "For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain." Our gain is eternity in heaven with God. Having a mansion specially prepared for us by God, Himself. At the end of our life, there is an eternal reward for those who have remained faithful.
Over and over again I've prayed Psalm 51:10,11 "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence. And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me." Verse 12 "Restore to me the joy of Your salvation."
Over and over again I have to repent and ask for God's forgiveness, and over and over again He freely gives it. I desire for God to create a clean heart within me. Wash me with His blood that I will be whiter than snow. I want to be a dwelling place without clutter and filth for Christ to live in. I never want to be ashamed of my spiritual temple and embarrassed to have God living within such a pigsty. But I want to give it my utmost attention and create an inner "home" without spot nor wrinkle, with no blemish.
I have a lot of work to do! But I pray that God never stops convicting me. I want to ever be reminded that it's not me that lives, but Christ in me!
I can't count the number of movies or TV episodes I've seen where some leading character is 'taken over' or possessed by some alien, spirit, ghost, demon, or 'presence'. Sometimes the character is oblivious, and is later confused when they get their body back. But in some of the stories, they are completely aware, and fight to get some control. They can watch whatever took over their body doing the wrong things, but can't seem to stop them.
A lot of the time, when people talk about giving ourselves to God, it sounds like they are talking about the same kind of possession. But it occurs to me (while reading Loretta's portion), that it's more like the opposite. Jesus is able to take up residence in our lives, but we keep control. He's the one watching us do the wrong thing, and He tries to stop us, but it's up to us what we really do.
1 carton heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. Garlic powder
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp. Onion salt
Blend all ingredients in a skillet and heat. Serve over fettuccine noodles. Can add in diced chicken or shrimp.
This is Jon, writing this week. The heavy snow today reminded me of a story I've heard many times. I expect I was born by the time it took place, but I didn't know about it till years later.
It's the story of when my brother saved my sister's life. Or, at least, that's the way he put it.
They were walking to their school bus stop, when Ken saw a car coming. He risked his life and limb to run across the icy road to push Gayla off the road and into a deep snow drift in the ditch. She got up, and of course, yelled at him. Then he told her about the car that was coming and that he'd saved her. Awhile later, the car finally caught up with and passed them. The driver was going far too slowly to hurt anyone, even if he had hit her.
Being a man or woman shouldn't make us a different kind of christian;
but being a christian should me us a different kind of man or woman.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon