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“I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:14

Why do I think the very thoughts I’ve turned from? Why do I seek out the very temptations that cause me to stumble? Why do I give words to the very thoughts that I know cause hurt? Why do I embrace the very indifference I find repulsive? Why do I embody the very selfishness that denies my worship? Why am I the very person I don’t want to be? Why do I do the very things I hate?

“I do the very thing I hate”, is a confession that every follower of Christ has made. Obedience to the commands of the One we love can be a baffling mystery of cyclical inconsistency. Those who are in Christ live in between worlds. We are new creations in Christ and yet we still live in the flesh.

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Romans 7:18-19

The flesh that we inhabit is bound to this sinful fallen world. Some may use this fact as an excuse to live in sin.  However, our existence does not excuse sinful disobedience but rather it should inform our obedience.

We do not follow Christ through the power of the flesh. We do not yield our will to the commands of the law by relying upon feeling and emotions.

Obedience is an act of will; Will is the result of decisions; Decisions are made either in the mind based on knowledge or from urges of the flesh.

Since the flesh can only produce sin, obedience to the Word of God must come from a mind willfully yielding to guidance of the Spirit in faith.

So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. Romans 7:26b

The Christian life should be progressively learning how to subject the feelings and emotions of a rebellious heart to the Christ-like decisions of a mind that loves God more than those fleshly urges. We have to learn how to do this. I find Proverbs helpful.

Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,  (Proverbs 2:2-4)

Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:5)

Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; (Proverb 2:9)

So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, (Proverbs 2:16)

So you will walk in the way of the good to the paths of the righteous. (Proverbs 2:20)

Proverbs shows the powerful progression of an engaged mind.

The children of God engage their minds in the wonderful search to know their Lord; praying for the Spirit to reveal insight and understanding; listening for the wisdom of God and inclining their hearts to understanding the comes only from faith.

God promises that those who seek Him in faith will find Him. They will be given the knowledge of God and understand the fear of the Lord. They will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path.

The mind will have the understanding that it needs to bend the will from the flesh. Only when an engaged mind is working on the knowledge revealed through the Spirit can it make a decision that takes the flesh away from the forbidden woman and all other enticing temptations and onto the paths of the righteous, walking in the way of the good.

Our flesh will never be inclined to love God. Therefore, stop trying to obey God in your flesh.

Love God with your mind and watch your flesh follow.

“Loving God with all our mind means that our thinking is wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things.” ~ John Piper, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God

PRAYER: Lord, you know how often I stray after the flesh.  You know how I disengage my mind to do what I don’t want to do.  Please forgive me.  Father, give me insight and understanding; make my ears attentive; incline my heart to understanding.  Help me to know you; show me yourself.  Teach me how to love and fear you.  I love you Lord; keep my feet on the path of righteousness in glorifying obedience to you.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

Originally posted on Schreiberspace:

Ryle Practical ReligionHave you ever wanted to make it a point to read the Bible on a regular basis, but just weren’t sure how to go about it? If that describes you, here is some practical advice for you from J.C. Ryle’s book, Practical Religion (p.122-125):

  1. Start today. Just get started, and worry about figuring out the perfect way to do it later. You can always change how you go about it as you go. Ryle writes,

    “The way to do a thing is to do it, and the way to read the Bible is actually to read it. It is not meaning, or wishing, or resolving, or intending, or thinking about it, which will advance you one step. You must positively read.” (p.122)

  2. “Read the Bible with an earnest desire to understand it.” Don’t just set a certain number of pages as your goal. Make it your aim to learn and understand what…

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The Gift of Memory

Originally posted on From the Inside Out:

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“There it is, Mom, “ Steve remarked, as he pointed to a little white house in the middle of a city block. “That’s where we lived when I was growing up.”

“Oh, yes,” she replied. But did Mom really remember?

We were on an excursion through Columbus, Ohio, taking Steve’s mother past the landmarks of her life. Alzheimer’s disease had already stolen away much of her vibrancy and warmth, and, of course, her memory.

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Steve drove by West High School and continued his commentary. “That’s where we all went to school, you, Dad, Karen, and me. You were the very first homecoming queen.  How about that?  No wonder Dad asked you out.”

She murmured assent to Steve’s comments, but added nothing of her own.

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We drove past the brick ranch they built out in the country in 1966. Horses used to reside beyond the back fence. Just…

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HOLD FAST – Jan. 15

JD Blom:

HOLD FAST, my friends, to what is of first importance:
“That Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scripture, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” 1 Cor. 15:3-8

Originally posted on A DEVOTED LIFE:

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:31-32

I don’t think that my adventurous spirit is sufficient enough to have sought to be a sailor in the era of the great sailing ships.   I am awed by those sailors who would leave the safety of land to venture into the unknown of the sea with only the sky as a guide and the wind to propel them.  My minimum requirements for such an adventure are engines, GPS and a satellite phone.

I fully respect the courage of those sailors.  They were on their own.  Their entire security was within the oak timbers and cloth sails of their vessel.  There was no rescue from the Coast Guard if you were washed over.  Their ship was their…

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JD Blom:

My Bible reading plan took me through Job 21 today. My meditation returned me to familiar questions on vs. 7-8 and then I realized that I had written on these verses before. Therefore, I thought that I would share what a young me was able to remind my older self of.

Originally posted on A DEVOTED LIFE:

“Why do the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power?  Their offspring are established in their presence, and their descendants before their eyes.”  Job 21:7-8

Baby's cradleA little more than a decade and a half ago, my wife and I were without children.  This was not by choice.  We had been hoping to be what so many couples seemed to just become.  Yet, the gift of a child remained a mere dream.  Our friends and family would decide to have a baby and a couple months later they were pregnant.  We waited.  We watched the world growing around us and we waited.  Our waiting involved doctors, schedules, temperatures, medication, procedures, and prayer.

My wife and I were on a cycle induced emotional roller-coaster.  We received an unwanted answer to our prayers every month.  The optimism of getting the science right was always ground away in the reality of the elusiveness of life. …

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cullmann“The fountainhead of all false biblical interpretation and of all heresy is invariably the isolation and the absolutising of one single passage.”
~ Oscar Cullmann,

In honor of Oscar Cullmann, German New Testament Scholar, who was born on this day in 1902.

Resources:
February 25 – Today in Christian History
One Verse Heresies

 

 

 

“The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.  The sun shall not strike you by day nor the moon by night.”  Psalm 121:5-6

I hCLF - Olmstead Parksave been reading Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.  I came upon a line that caused me to pause:

There are no trivial facts in humanity, nor little leaves in vegetation.  It is the physiognomy of the years that the physiognomy of the century is composed.  (Victor Hugo, Les Miserables page 77)

Physiognomy is a wonderful word that I had to look up; it means the general form or appearance; facial expression, especially when regarded as indicative of character or ethnic. There is a great truth in this quote.  The general character of a century is composed of the character of the years.  It is the small things of life that compose the great; there are no small leaves in vegetation. I pray that my children will grow to be individuals of character.  I want them to walk all their days in the Spirit and know deeply the love of God.  I want the physiognomy of their childhood years to compose the physiognomy of their adult life. Childhood forms much of our adult life.  Just like a giant shade tree on a hot summer day, we hope to shade our children from the hurt and regret of a rebellious world.  My wife and I endeavor to spread  a canopy of love over our children.  A canopy composed of thousands of leaves.

The grand teachable moments are the parent’s white whales.  We long for those moments when we can speak of great truths and profound lessons.  These giant leaves do happen, but I believe they are much more rare than we want to admit.  The more abundant and therefore the greatest composition of a parent’s canopy of love are the small leaves. The small leaves demonstrating the reality of the transforming work of the Spirit in a child of God:

How we speak to our spouse; The control of our anger; The kindness we show to strangers; Daily love of scripture; Devotion to prayer; Generosity to the ungenerous; Speaking truth even when it costs; Obedience to speed limits even when late; All those words of encouragement spoken in love.

445Each of these acts flourishes like thousands of small leaves shading the childhood of our children while they are under our care.  There are no little leaves in the life of a Christian.  Every fruit of the Spirit harvested from my life and the life of my wife contributes to the canopy over our lives together in Christ.  That canopy shades our children’s hearts from being hardened by a parching world.  It is a great work of the Spirit. Doubtless, there are grand leaves of teachable moments in our canopy but they certainly are outnumbered by all the little evidences of a man and woman in love with their Savior. I know that the salvation of my children is not within my hands. Yet, I have faith that nothing is too hard for God; even the conversion of my children.  We live and pray expectantly.  The Lord our keeper shades the life of my wife and I.  We have faith that His shade upon our lives will create the perfect environment for Him to draw our children to Himself. There are no little acts in the life of a Christian.  There are always little eyes watching.

It is the trivial acts of daily life that composes the physiognomy of my life.

It is the physiognomy of an individual life that the physiognomy of a family is composed.

It is the physiognomy of a family that the physiognomy of a church is composed.

It is the physiognomy of the church that the physiognomy of a generation is composed.

There are no trivial acts in a Christian’s life, nor little leaves of the Spirit’s fruit.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you from my children.  Father, I pray that you will draw them to yourself.  Open their eyes to the magnificence of who you are.  Give them ears to hear the call of their Shepherd.  Create in them a clean heart that comes only from being a new creation in Christ, your Son and the redeemer of their souls.  Help me be the parent that they need.  Help me to show them what it means to walk in the Spirit.  Let the shade of your grace keep me; may that same grace flow through my life to shade them as they grow in you.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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