Saturday, January 9, 2016

Let Your Light So Shine!

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

We are often talking to our kids about being a light in this dark world. We remind them that they are not going to win the world for Jesus looking like everyone else. How is this done? It sounds like a good idea up until the point at which you have to make the uncomfortable decision to go against the flow. 

A student sitting at lunch in a crowded cafeteria, with their bible open, reading…let your light so shine

A mother struggling with her screaming toddler at a store, a passerby helps her load her groceries on the belt while she calms her child… let your light so shine

Salvation Army bell ringer faithfully ringing the bell during a snow storm, a young man buys and delivers a cup of hot cocoa to them…let your light so shine

When you see a visitor or a loner come in to church on Sunday, greeting them, offer to sit together or show them around…yes even inside the church walls…let your light so shine

An elderly neighbor is alone, the mailman gets out of his car to go inside to say hello and show he cares…let your light so shine

In a group of women, someone starts to talk about someone behind their back, you join the conversation to say that you sure are glad Jesus died for her sins just like he died for all of ours…let your light so shine

Someone in your neighborhood is the last to take care of their leaves, you gather some friends and finish it for them…let your light so shine

While channel surfing, you opt for something other than your usual fare because it just doesn’t seem God-honoring anymore…let your light so shine

A teen choir visits an old folks home to cheer them up with Christmas carols…let your light so shine

An elderly woman has been widowed and you send a card once a month or stop by to have a cup of tea and chat…let your light so shine

Someone in your church has surgery, you show up to pray with them before surgery or visit them at home afterwards…regularly until they are healed…let your light so shine

A group of friends sharing a joke or men talking vulgarly about a woman that is clearly not God-honoring and clean; you don’t laugh along or participate and you leave the conversation…. Let your light so shine

You and your husband have had equally rough days, instead of “blasting” him with your complaints when he walks in, you selflessly put your frustrations aside and ask him about his day and comfort him….let your light so shine

Choosing not to argue in front of your children and have a united stand together….let your light so shine

There are so many other examples of how we stand out as lights in a dark world. Personally I notice it most when someone chooses meekness over self-promotion or shouting their convictions at the top of their lungs.

Our Savior, Jesus Christ, set such an example for us. If you read through any of the gospels (I like the book of John) you can see the account of Jesus’ life and how He lived. He is our bench mark that we are to emulate.

John 8:12- “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Check out some inspiring authors at Kelly Balarie's site!

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A Resolution to be Achieved

A New Year’s Resolution that can actually be achieved!

For those of us who like to “resolve” or prioritize or strive to achieve a different path each New Year’s, I’d like to offer some hope and encouragement.

January 2015 I made a resolution for that year to be the year of no bondage to sin, and only by God’s grace I had victory! Each time the Holy Spirit convicted me I aimed to respond immediately. It was not by my power, resolve, will power, or strength. Only pure dependence on God’s power as I know my weakness and insufficiency.

You see, there’s a big difference between willful (making an active decision) sin and inadvertent sin. I spent a large portion of my life in complete rebellious, willful sin. I knew it was sin, I knew the Holy Spirit was convicting me and I chose to ignore it, stuff it down and not respond.

Inadvertent sin is different, it’s like having a bad reaction, realizing it immediately and asking God’s forgiveness and choose to do better next time.

Once I chose to be in willful sin and it continued for some time, it became something I was enslaved to. Sin digs its meaty little hooks into you and holds you captive.

Once you’ve willfully chosen to be placed in bondage to sin, only the One Faithful and True God can get you out. Check out my blog post To the Christian Trapped in Sin

I spent a lot of time in recovery and restoration, coming out of bondage and I noticed some hallmarks of being a captive to sin. I have shared some things I learned below.

First and foremost, there’s a way out if you are in bondage! This is to help identify if you are, in fact, in bondage to your habitual sin, or if you are like every other Christian that is called according to 1 Timothy 6:11-12- Flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 

    1) You are in bondage if your daily life has a hallmark of your habitual sin, you are known by it. (Liar, substance abuser, gossiper, controlling, lustful, deceiver, fearful, prideful, rebellious, idolizer-obsessed with something, etc.)

    2) If you find yourself in a trap of sin-confess-sin-confess, but never actually shake the sin you confess over and over and chose to be different, you are probably in bondage.

    3) It’s very easy for you to rationalize your problems, make excuses or blame others or circumstances for your plight.  “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for…” “I deserve to have this for all I’ve been through…” “It’s just the way I am”…. “At least I’m not as bad as so and so”…. you are in bondage.

     4) Sometimes you hate who you’ve become but feel you have no way out…bondage.

    5) You’ve overcome an area of sin, but you keep getting tempted in that area…but you don’t choose it again… you are struggling with temptation- Keep fighting!

    6) A flesh pattern in your life rears its ugly head over and over, but you fight it and try to be different, or catch yourself in the middle of it and immediately retreat- You are struggling- Keep fighting!

     7)You have no idea what it means to walk in the Freedom of Christ and how to be like Christ- buried in bondage

If any of these sounds like you, have hope, take heart! I had so many areas of bondage and now can say with such joy that I am FREE!
The first thing is to recognize it, admit it to be true and confess to God. Ask His forgiveness.

Second, I was given some amazing materials to help guide me through the process. Here is the main page to Freedom in Christ Ministries and this is the link to materials .
I highly recommend The Steps to Freedom in Christ first. Many of these are on Kindle as well.

Don’t take 2015’s problems with you into 2016 any longer. Become Free and see what living life is like on the other side of that bondage!