"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!'"
June 18, 2014
This has absolutely nothing to do with this weeks devotional, but Happy 9th Anniversary to me and Jon today! One of the very best days of my life was when I married Jon. Recently we were talking that it's hard for us to really remember a time when we weren't together; it somehow seems as if our lives have always been intertwined. We have been so blessed and I look forward to many more years together.
Jon had a thought a few days ago: Our first date was on Mother's Day, and we got married on Father's Day weekend the following year. I don't think there is any significance in that fact, since it took him almost nine years to think of it, and something I had never really considered. But it is a tidbit of useless information for your reading pleasure!
Now onto the devotional:
I have mentioned that Jon and I have been praying for a specific need for the past nine years. A year ago, we had hope that it was going to come to pass, but then we've waited and waited. Then about three months ago, we once again had renewed hope, but again we have waited on the fulfillment of this prayer to be answered. Some days our patience is hanging by a thread, but we keep praying and believing and expecting it to come to pass. We are diligently trying to keep our focus on God and not on the problem.
Most times I do okay with keeping hold of faith, but there are moments when I struggle. And seemingly, this generally will happen during the night while Jon is sleeping. I will fall asleep, then wake up filled with anxiety and fear; but I have tried to make it a habit of getting up and going downstairs and praying when this happens. I know from experience that this is the only way I can overcome my feelings and have peace and be able to fall back to sleep.
This happened one night last week. We both had fallen asleep, and I had slept for an hour or two, then woke up filled with anxiety and fear. I had done something earlier in the day, that really wasn't anything bad whatsoever, but it was as if my thoughts regarding my decisions and actions were tormenting me. Continuous thoughts were running through my mind, like: "You know you shouldn't have done that; because of you, now God's not going to answer your prayer;" and "What were you thinking!? What if something bad happens and you and Jon have to suffer because of your stupidity?" Then my mind would spin from one negative scenario to another. I would try telling myself that it was no big deal and that nothing bad was going to happen, but I couldn't shut my mind off.
I finally got up and came downstairs. I began walking from one end of the living room to the other, and at first my prayers basically consisted of my confessing and repenting and telling God how stupid I had been.
Finally, this scripture from Ephesians 6:12 (KJV) came to mind: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
I realized that I wasn't fighting against a person or even against the situation, but it was a spiritual battle that I was doing warfare against. I honestly can say that I didn't have any big spiritual breakthroughs at that point, but after praying for a while, my mind was at rest and I was able to go back to sleep for the rest of the night.
It seems as if attacks from the enemy will come under the cover of darkness. I know that it is not a tangible enemy that enters our home or our mind, but the powers of darkness will invade our thoughts so that we can't rest.
The following morning when I awoke, the Holy Spirit spoke these thoughts to my heart: The Holy Spirit (or God) brings conviction when we've sinned and need to repent.... not accusations..... not fear..... not condemnation. Those things come from Satan.
Here are the scriptures that back that up:
John 16:8 says, "And when He (the Holy Spirit) comes, He will convict the world of its sin and of God's righteousness, and of the coming judgement...." So that scripture verifies that the work (or job) of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of our sin and point us to God's righteousness.
Revelation 12:10-11 says, "... for the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth -- the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony...."
2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
Romans 8:1-2 says, "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death."
The next time your mind is throwing accusations at you, remember that it is not God, but Satan, who is the accuser. When Jesus was temped in the wilderness for forty days, He combatted every attack of Satan by quoting scripture. We have that same authority today. Know what the Word of God says so that you can use it! When you are being accused of your past or of something in the present, remind Satan that you are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ and that he (Satan) has no authority over you. James 4:7 tells us to resist the devil and he will flee! But the stipulation of us having that authority is in the beginning of that verse; we have to submit ourselves to God. When we do so, then we have the power to resist the attacks of the devil against our minds.
When fear and anxiety fill your mind, quote 2 Timothy 1:7, until you believe it! Fear is not of God, but He gives us power, love and a sound mind.
Condemnation usually leads to punishment and sentencing. We do not have to be punished for our sins, but we can repent and be cleansed and forgiven. Satan likes to keep bringing up sins from our past, causing our minds to dwell on those things and us to beat ourselves up about them. But once we have repented, they are under the blood and we are a new creation in Christ! So don't allow your mind to dwell on past sins and mistakes, but when those thoughts come, rebuke Satan and tell him that you belong to Jesus and have been freed from the power of sin.
On the other hand, when the Holy Spirit brings conviction, we all need to be quick to respond in a prayer of repentance. So many times, it's easy for us to justify our sin, instead of repenting of it and allowing God to forgive us. Perhaps that's because we don't want to give it up or change. But we can only be free and have a life filled with the joy and peace of God, when we repent and turn to God, not from Him. That's the choice I want to always make!
Sometimes people try to help out the Holy Spirit by offering conviction to others. And sometimes we try to help out with the condemnation, too. I'm not immune; I catch myself doing the same thing. But I try to take a moment to realize what amazing forgiveness God has given to me for my own sins. Then I try to put about a dozen verses to action. Jesus said it best, "Judge not, lest ye also be judged." I have to choose whether to follow that, or the opposite, which is to not forgive and also not be forgiven myself. I've already received forgiveness again and again, and I owe it to others, too.
1 (6 oz.) can frozen orange juice
1 cup water
1 cup milk
10-12 ice cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix all ingredients in blender on high speed until ice is crushed and smooth.
I recently read about an object lesson that would be good to be used for kids:
A teacher had each child build the wall of Jericho using cut up fruit and toothpicks given to them on a paper plate. Then they blew it down using a Bugle chip.
Love is not only something you feel. It's something you do. - David Wilkerson
We love you!
Loretta & Jon