Indulgence

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We have two choices, satisfy the flesh or satisfy the Spirit.  The flesh can be satisfied in many ways: eating, drinking, sleeping, fornication, exercising, etc. which in and of themselves are not bad as long as they are done within limits.  The problem is that the more we focus on fulfilling our desires of the flesh, we will make less restrictions and will end up constrained to do whatever we have to in order to meet our craving.  The more you satisfy the flesh, you will continue to expect more and better satisfactions out of habit.  The Spirit can only be satisfied one way and that is to be still with God.  When you begin to satisfy the Spirit, you will find contentment and joy with all that you have in the flesh and will want deeper satisfactions for the Spirit.  What will you plan to satisfy when you wake up?  What will you feed while you are awake?  How will you feel before going to sleep? 

Romans 5:20 God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. 21 So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Romans 6: “12 Do not let sin control the way you live;do not give in to sinful desires. 13 Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. 14 Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.”

Romans 8: “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.  But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)…12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters,you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature,you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

Hebrews 2:14 states, “Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.”  In The Art of War, Sun Tzu states that:  “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”  The truth is that life is filled with battles, the enemy is Satan and his greatest weapons are providing thoughts to human beings to satisfy their own desires.  Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”  When we depend on our own strengths and fight alone, we will lose and die.  When we put our entire trust in Jesus Christ, we find mercy and with mercy we receive grace.  For further clarification, mercy means not getting what we do deserve (withheld punishment) and grace is getting what we do not deserve (unmerited favor).  When we depend on His mercy rather than our own goodness, we gain better understanding of our identity in Christ and are able to live out our lives each day having no fear and no worries of what lies ahead. 

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor who has made the following statements:  “What is to give light must first endure burning.”  “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”  He reminds us that “true happiness in life depends not on conditions but on decisions.”  We read in Job 33:27-30, “I sinned and perverted what was right, but I did not get what I deserved.  He redeemed my soul from going down to the grave, and I will live to enjoy the light of life.  God does all these things to a man several times to turn back his soul from the grave, that the light of life may shine on him.”  Hebrews 4:16 instructs, “Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with fullest confidence, that we may receive mercy for our failures and grace to help in the hour of need.”  In the meantime, God is calling us out of mercy and into obedience.  Eventually it dawns on all of us that we cannot get away with unrepentant sin.  It’s as if God gradually withdraws his mercy after we have come to a knowledge of the truth.  God’s mercy has served its purpose, now it is time for obedience.  Romans 12:1 declares, “Think of God’s mercy, my brothers, and worship him, I beg you, in a way that is worthy of thinking beings, by offering your living bodies as a holy sacrifice, truly pleasing to God.”

Galatians 5:16-26 (Message): “My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?  It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.  This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.  But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.  Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.  Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”

John Wesley would frequently ask his congregation, “Have you availed yourself to the means of grace this week?”  I would like to go further and ask: will grace be the first thought that comes to your mind when you wake up?  Will grace be remembered and reflected towards others as you go through your day?  Will you go to sleep with a thankful heart because of the means of grace? 

Colossians 3:1-17 (Message):  “So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.  Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.  And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.  Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.  So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.  Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”

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Life Analogy

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Life is to death as death is to Life.  Billy Graham once said, “From the moment we are born, we begin to die.”  Life is a reflection and it is important to understand what, who, and how we are reflecting.  This comes by what we read, listen to, and watch, who we hang out with, and how we handle our priorities and situations.  What do our lives revolve around?  It is natural for us to seek with our minds and hearts for temporary pleasures that last for a brief amount of time.  It is supernatural for us to seek with our minds and hearts for spiritual matters that will last for eternity.  We cannot make it through life on our own.  Robert W. Youngs pointed out that “Sir Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Prize-winning poet, once said, “I have on my table a violin string.  It is free.  But it is not free to do what a violin string is supposed to do—to produce music.  So I take it, fix it in my violin and tighten it until it is taut.  Only then is it free to be a violin string.”  By the same token we are free when our lives are committed, but not to be what we were intended to be.  Real freedom is not freedom from, but freedom for.”  In this life, we have freedom to grow.  Carl Jung has stated that “Growth at all levels must include spiritual development as its most subtle and valuable aspect.  The life of the spirit, manifest in the consciousness, must evolve in accordance with certain principles and forms, which, in turn, must be related to all the other levels of human existence.  If they were unequal or detached, life could not continue.” 

I highly encourage the reader to click the following link and watch this 11 minute skit:

http://skitguys.com/videos/item/gods-chisel

I love this video.  When we accept Jesus Christ in our lives and have complete trust in Him, God takes all of the junk in our lives and begins making us the way we were intended to be, just like Jesus.  Unfortunately for us, it does not happen overnight.  While we are living on this earth, we will continue to be a work in progress.  God gave us mountains so that we can learn how to climb.  Every mountain has a valley to go through.  We are never alone when we go through valleys or when we are at the lowest point of the mountain because God is there through it all.  He is with us and for us through our entire lives and the question is will we trust Him enough to let Him work THROUGH us in addition to working ON us?

It is all too easy to live in the lie that we have to earn love.  Maybe we do this because that is the impression we got growing up at home or maybe from past experiences with relationships.  It is time to examine our minds, our hearts, and our ways and return to the LORD.  Grace is needed to save, it is needed to grow, and it is needed for love.  Grace realized is glory defined.  Grace realized is glory shown.  Now is the time to repent to connect. Repent from “stinking thinking.”  Connect to God’s love.  Let us stop trying to earn and start to receive.  Let us immerse ourselves in the love God has for us and so desperately wants to show us. 

1 John 4:7-16 declares, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  This is how we know that we live in him and he in us:  He has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.”

Galatians 2:19-21 declares, “For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me.  So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God.  My old self has been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless.  For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.”

2 Corinthians 4:14-18 says, “We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you.  All of this is for your benefit.  And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.  That is why we never give up.  Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.   For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!   So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

Matthew 6:25-34 says, “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the sky:  They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Aren’t you worth more than they?  Can any of you add a single cubit to his heightby worrying?  And why do you worry about clothes?  Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these!  If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith?  So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’  For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first the kingdom of Godand His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.  Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” 

A.W. Tozer once said that “things do not just happen in the kingdom of God, they come to pass.”  The Message version of Matthew 6:25-34 says:  “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?  What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.  People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works.  Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions.  Don’t worry about missing out.  You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.  Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

This 11 minute video of Jars of Clay singing “Worlds Apart” seems to be an appropriate ending for this entry.  I encourage the reader to play the video with your eyes closed and listen to and meditate to the words of the song: