Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Take Time Tuesdays

Chapter 7 ~ The Freedom of Abandonment

"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 to me." Galatians 2:20

"There are three marks of one who is crucified. One, he is facing in only one direction. Two, he can never turn back. And three, he no longer has any plans of his own. " A. W. Tozer

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!" Philippians 2:5-8

There was a period of time in my life when this was my attitude, but when push came to shove ~ I "kept a slight grasp" just in case things didn't go the way I desired, never wanting to be completely out of control in my own life... With Tozer's quote, I don't think I ever really got to the third mark ~ but I'd like to get there. Why is it so difficult to let go and let God? To give up all control in our lives and trust God completely?

As the author shares, "Romans 6:11 says that you should consider yourself dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. Do you consider this verse to be true in your life? Why or why not?" I'll let you wrestle through that one on your own...

"In our struggle with flesh, the Holy Spirit is our special Helper. He knows all the subtle wiles of the flesh... The Holy Spirit is on our side. He is our ally against this subtle foe. He dwells within, where the battle is to be fought. We are not left helpless in this battle, nor are we simply the battleground between then two foes. We are to "walk in the Spirit." That calls for a deliberate choice. We yield either to the flesh or to the Spirit... We must deny our natural desires. We are to do things that the Holy Spirits wants us to do." John Phillips

Okay, so we have an ongoing struggle - but we have the Holy Spirit, so making the right choices shouldn't be that difficult, should it? Why do I battle on and on in this area? Perhaps my flesh is so weak and I don't really want to give up "the things of this world". It's easier to fit in with everyone else... I have a right to eat that chocolate or have cookies or cupcakes, or watch certain movies or television shows, buy myself a new purse or treat myself to lunch, etc - it's just the way this world works. Well, not necessarily. Isn't it true that if the Spirit is telling us not to eat something or not to do something, we often get bent out of shape, defend ourselves and justify why we should do something, complain and whine that it isn't fair that we are being denied... We can resist, we can change our attitude, we can overcome any obstacle ~ and we don't have to do it on our own, BUT we must be willing to die to our self first to allow Christ to live victoriously in us! It's really quite simple, isn't it?

From our study: "Lawrence O. Richards wrote, "obedience is the outward expression of a heart that has turned to God."

"Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears My words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on a rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears My words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete." Luke 6:46-49

I've lived in both types of houses... My temple (body) has been a strong tower, because of Christ and living out His Truth and I have not been swayed in the midst of challenges, trials and difficulties, but I've also been a temple with no foundation and allowed sin, fear, and unbelief cause me to fall, be swept away and second guess His truth. I know by experience that when I am living in His Truth, died to myself and I'm being obedient to what He desires of me ~ no matter what comes into my life, He enables me to stand firm and strong and not be destroyed. No, at those times He is gloried and gives me victory in my life!

And I must remember:
"But the man (and woman) who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does." James 1:25

Aren't those wonderful and encouraging words? I hope you realize that these words are still not about us choosing the way we live our life, but when we're totally abandoned to Christ, He will bless our lives for His glory. And that's a really wonderful thing!

"So obedience, properly understood, is never a cold or impersonal thing. God's call to obedience is a loving invitation to experience His best." Lawrence O. Richards

I love this quote! If you're anything like me, it's wonderful to feel loved; to be invited into someone's inner circle; to be an important part of a special family! That's what God is all about! He wants all His children to experience His amazing love and when we're obedient to Him, He knows we love Him and, in return, He loves us even more!

Do you still want to keep control over your life? Have you abandoned yourself to God? These verses will help you see a bit more what that "looks like!"

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful natural with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other." Galatians 5:22-26

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4

How I desire my life to be testified of in this way, but how short I fall (and so often)... And yet, I know that God continues to transform my life a little each day, each season, each new stretch of my journey here on earth. I do try to live this out in some measure, but I realize what I really need is to completely let go of my control of my life.

"The word walk... refers to our outward life, which people all around us can see. "Let your conduct be controlled by the Spirit," is one way of rendering the Word here... Inherent in the concept of "walk" is the idea of making progress. We walk one step at a time. Our progress might not be fast, but it should be steady. We might stumble and fall, but we get up, seek cleansing, and keep moving forward." John Phillips

Hopefully, you don't feel like an utter failure in working through this week's study ~ and I've just skimmed the surface. There is so much to learn in this chapter. When I read this quote, I smiled. Yes, Lord - I'm making progress. I'm making progress toward You!

"Christ died to save us, not from suffering, but from ourselves; not from injustice, far less than justice, but from being unjust. He died that we might live - but live as He lives, by dying as He died who died to himself." George MacDonald

This is such a wonderful image. Perhaps it will give revelation to some who read this... He is so good!

To close this week:
Reflections ~ "This is a difficult chapter. It is not easy to give up control of your life, but what we give up cannot compare with what we gain." Are you willing to abandon your life to the Lord that you might really live?

"Have I ever been carried away to do something for God not because it was my duty, nor because it was useful, nor because there was anything in it at all beyond the fact that I love Him?... Not Divine, colossal things which could be recorded as marvelous, but ordinary, simple human things which will give evidence to God that I am abandoned to Him? Have I ever produced in the heart of the Lord Jesus what Mary of Bethany produced?" Oswald Chambers

It's not easy to give up complete control. It's not easy to abandon what we have "planned" for our lives, but He's promised to be with us. He's told us that it will be an exciting adventure like nothing we could ever ask or imagine. It could be high profile or humble and simple, but your life will never be the same if you will surrender control of your life to Him. And, you will gain so much more!

Lord Jesus, I've wanted to give you complete control but I know I've always held, at least, a little something back. No more. Today, I'm giving you ALL of my life; surrendering to You. Take my life, crucify it in You so I may really live!

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Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! Abundant blessings on your day... Joanie