June 24, 2010

Bereavement

adj. The state fact of being bereaved; especially the loss of a loved one by death.

I woke up this morning feeling refreshed, and thinking that I am at peace with my decision to forgo trying to create my own plans and purposes, and stick with those that I feel the Lord has placed in my heart and in my mind. It has been a long process for me, to learn how to trust and rely on the Lord. I have been a Christian for a very long time, and despite periods of closeness with Him, there were far too many periods of dry, desert wasteland.

Sometimes difficult trials and circumstances are the THING the Lord uses to call us back to Him. Sometimes we need the hardness of life to drive us away from the world and back into the loving arms of our Savior. Only God knows which way we will go; only He knows if we WILL return to Him or if we will run farther away. I am glad to know that the Lord knew that I would come back to Him; and, I am so glad to know that I did exactly what He thought I would do. PTL!

In all my wanderings away from the Lord, I can tell you that there were times when I was absolutely alone. Much like the Prodigal Son who didn't realize just how good his life was -- until he saw just how bad it had become. In the same way, I have been a Prodigal Daughter, though I never left the church or even my home. Yet, in my heart and in my mind, I chose to go out my own way, not out of pride or arrogance; but, out of fear and a sense of great anxiety (worry). I chose to seek peace outside that of God, thinking that my relationship with Him was good enough for Salvation, but not good enough for daily living.

In some ways, I wandered farther away due to guilt, guilt over past sin, guilt over not being good enough. I did what some children do -- come to believe that the Father no longer loves them BECAUSE of the depth of their sin. Of course, this is not true -- no, no, no! Yet, in our minds and in our hearts, we come to accept that lie of Satan that tells us: "You goofed big-time. God has had enough of you. Get lost, He doesn't want you around anymore."

It is when we sink into despair that we often believe these lies. It is then when our minds are most vunerable to them. This was the case with me. I came to believe that I had had it good, and I chose willingly to do something bad, and that was it -- God was finished with me. I still had my Salvation -- I didn't think I had lost that (well, not at first) -- but I didn't think I could ever be good enough to be in a close relationship with God ever again.

My life took a serious turn for the worse, and I was forced to decide in whom to believe. Would I continue to believe the lies OR would I come back and ask my Father for forgiveness and see if He would do it. I took the latter, as many people do, and I found my Father to be the most loving and forgiving in nature. Yes, He forgave me; but, that wasn't all. He set about to heal my broken heart, bind up my wounds, and set me free from all the bondage I had gotten myself into. It took time, mind you, lots of time. And, the journey wasn't a cake walk. I had a lot of growing up to do (spiritually-speaking). I had to accept my part in all this mess, and then I had to make the committment to never do it again (what was it -- turn and run from God). I had to come clean, confess to the very depths of my soul, and then receive the blessing of healing and restoration.

I have to tell you that I have confessed before, many times before. I even confessed the day I got saved; but not like this. This time I wept with bitter tears, the kind that wrenches your soul and cuts you bare. I wept so loudly that you would have thought I was dying. In truth, I was dying, I was dying to my self and all my selfish needs and desires and wants. In one moment of utter agony, I was set free and given sweet liberty. I was no longer a victim of my wanton lust and desire; no, I was cleansed and washed and purified under the mighty and magnificient flow of His Blood.

Now as I stand here, blood-bought and blood-washed, I can say that the person I was is dead. That person no longer lives. The person I am today is new, born-again. I am alive to Christ; dead to sin and sins work in me and in the world around me. I am living my life with new purpose and with a new mindset that no longer seeks selfish goals and desires. I am living my life to seek His Highest.

The longer I remain as I am, the more I am able to look on the past and see it clearly. God does that for us -- He uses time to not only heal our wounds and brokenness, but He enables us to have a fresh perspective on the past. We see only the truth, because now we can handle it, accept it, and process it. Whereas before we were still wrapped up in US, in ME, and in making sure that I came out on top. Now, I am able to see the past and see my part in it. It is not about blaming myself or another person. It really isn't about taking responsibility (which a lot of self-help books preach); no rather, it is about seeing things rightly and then understanding sin, and how sin works in our lives. I see the sin, and I see the sinner. I see myself and I see others. I see that we are alike -- we all have sinned. In short, I see myself as God sees me, and He has Graciously given me the opportunity to see others the same way.

With this new found eyesight, I am better able to judge rightly. Though Paul tells us we are not to judge the world, because the world is being judge by God; we are to judge our brothers and sisters in Christ [Weird, huh? How many Christian's know this verse in 1 Corinithians? Not many, I dare say -- another lie of Satan -- do not judge anyone! This is not what the Word says, yet we believe we are not to judge, especially not the household of God! May it never be!!]

"I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you." ~! Corinthians 5:9-13

God's Holiness and Righteousness is supposed to be reflected within His People, the Church. However, over the years, we have become very soft on sin, especially sin that is committed within the church. We have it all upside down. We judge and rail and rant and persecute those outside the church, when Paul says that is God's business. We allow sin of all sorts (here referenced is sexual immorality) to run rampant within the church, covering it up at times, and ignoring most often. We say "we are all sinners, brother! I am a sinner too! Come on in, God will forgive your sin!" Yes, this is true! But what happens after that sinner gets saved? What happens then? Does not the Word communicate that once we are saved we are a new creature in Christ and that we are to put off the former ways, the old lusts, the old behaviors. How many times does Paul say "stop sinning" to us?

The issue is this: we are intolerant of sin, but only when it is within the wickedness of the world. We tolerate sin because we ourselves were formerly sinners. I say formerly because I take exception with the preaching that continues to hit Christians with the "you are a sinner" approach. No, no, no. If you are saved, you are no longer a sinner -- YOU ARE A SAINT. You are being sanctified by the Holy Spirit of God and are being made HOLY, just as He (your Father and Lord) is HOLY. This means that within you now the very same Spirit of the Living God is creating fruit, creating the behaviors, the attitudes, and the mindset of the Lord Jesus Christ. Within you, He is working hard to reform you, to make you, to mold you into that new creature Christ died to give to you.

You are beloved of the Father. You are born again, and you are no longer as you formerly were. Will sin be non-existent in your life? It should be, yes it should be. Will this be the case every day of your life? Probably not. But, you can endeavor to live a sinless life (to the best of your human flesh) by submitting to the Word of God, and by allowing the Holy Spirit to have access to do His work in you. The more you allow Him to work in your heart, the less likely you will revert back to sinful choices. And, keep in mind the harshness of Pauls rebuke: if you do sin, you do so willingly and not as you did before you came to Christ. You do so with the full intention of crucifying your Lord again, and again, and again. The penalty for such sin is far more greivious to the Father, and far more injurious to your spiritual state. You will suffer great consequences if you sin willingly after the Cross of Jesus. Therefore, brother or sister -- simply refuse to give way to sin. Seek the Father, ask for Grace, and stand in the fountain of His blood. You can say NO to sin, you can say NO. Jesus has overcome the power of sin and it's penalty: death. You have also overcome, and now posess the power to say NO. Do not listen to anyone, even preachers of God who tell you that you are powerless, and that you are a sinner first. You WERE A SINNER FIRST -- but now you are a SAINT.

Beloved, listen to what the Word says and believe that it is so. Be free from the mindset that tells you that you are powerless to overcome your addiction, your debt, your betrayal, your immorality. Confess your sin to your Father, come clean, and receive His complete forgiveness. You will be healed and restored AND the Holy Spirit will give you His Grace to be freed from whatever hold these things have on your life and on your soul. In Jesus Name I Pray -- Amen.

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