BAD HABITS! ME???????????

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Pam Mitchell, Contributor for today’s blog

I have struggled for years with a particular bad habit of passing judgement on fellow Christians when I thought they were not living a Christ-like life!  In reflecting on our present Ladies’ Bible Studies I thought it might be good to share what God has been doing in my life regarding this problem. Matthew 7.1 “Judge not or you will also be judged.”

As a very new Christian, everything to me was black and white, good or bad. This was what led me to the Cross of Calvary as I realised that I could never match the purity God required of me to dwell with Him in Heaven. But I could easily see in others where they were failing. It has taken years for God and his grace to be able to work in my heart and see others in a completely different light!

God in His mercy constantly gives us reminders of where we need to allow Him access to change our sinful ways. James 1.19 “Everyone should be quick to listen…”

My first step to being released from this sinful way of judging others was to bring it to my Heavenly Father in repentance and prayer and ask Him to do the work of cleansing in my heart. It all springs from the heart! It is evil by human nature but can be made pure by Christ’s nature dwelling in us through His Holy Spirit. This is where He brought me to. He began the work of making me into who He wants me to be in Christ Jesus.

Over the years of walking with Him, I can see the working of His grace in changing my heart towards others. I am firstly made aware of my own shortcomings in many areas of my life- this is a good start! Then I am able to yield them to Him and ask Him to let me see others with the eyes of Jesus and with His ‘Agape’ love and compassion, this makes such a difference!

Bad habits are so easy to adopt in life, with our own insecurities we can deceive ourselves into feeling better when we see shortcomings in others! What a lie if we believe this. We are all “tarred with the same brush” and all subject to the same weakness of the flesh. But at the same time we ALL have the same access to the Grace of God to work in our hearts to change us into His likeness.

Philippians-1.6I AM STILL VERY MUCH ‘A WORK IN PROGRESS’. But, “I am confident that He, who began a good work in me, will carry it through to completion until the day of Christ.” Philippians 1:6

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Being Forgiven And Freely Justified by Christ…

…GIVES US THE MOTIVATION TO DEAL WITH SINFUL HABITS IN OUR LIVES. 

breaking freeThat is one of the declarations that we as followers of Christ can make! As we struggle to put to death our sometimes subtle sinful habits, it is important to remain in the Gospel mindset to address them.

Ed clearly states what that looks like:

 “Forgiveness sets me free to fight against sin. How? First, by removing the fear that God will cast me off me if I fail. I don’t have to win approval from a grudging Father; the Father loves us and is already on our side! Secondly, by giving me the desire to please the God who has shown such kindness to me even when I was His enemy. How can I not love such a good Father? Thirdly, the knowledge that the sin that has poisoned and disfigured me has already been pardoned makes me long for its entire removal from my life. Finally, present forgiveness assures me of final victory: I’m not fighting a losing battle (that would rob me of all motivation); rather, I’m getting into step with the victory that Christ has already won for me.”

Romans 6I encourage you sister, to ponder and pray for the penny to drop from your head into your heart. Let us encourage one another to preach the Gospel to ourselves every day!

(You will  find the full notes from this study under the heading of Bible Study and Notes, 5.on this blog)

 

THE TANGLE

Kathy Larkman

Kathy Larkman

Hi girlfriends!

I have been reflecting on this month’s bible study with my study buddies on ACCUMULATION OF OUR CHOICES: HABITS-GOOD OR BAD?  When reading James 1 where it says that we are “tempted by our own evil desire, we are dragged away and enticed,”  sometimes we mistakenly think that these scriptures are referring to sexual issues or blatant moral issues only. No. On a personal level,  I realized that my evil heart is the issue.  And that’s the truth. I struggle when my life gets stressed and everyday life gets strained with people, cheeky cats, and mundane tasks.  Frustration erupts into anger. Impatience may be closely followed by an unkind thought or remark. My attitude and choices are less than God honouring. AND, instead of dealing with these negative emotions in a biblical way, my tendency is to run away from them; to use food as an escape and a medication for these negative emotions.  So, it becomes a double whammy. Before I know it, my accumulated choices have become a sinful habit. The triple whammy is then I believe the world and Satan’s lies-  that I am a failure; that I may as well give up; or that I am entitled to my negative spews and food comfort.  See the tangle?

In God’s grace and mercy, I have not resigned myself to this. God is greater than my sinful nature! I am not condemned! God has given me everything I need for life and godliness. As Ed said recently in a sermon, “God loves us despite the sin in our lives, and loves us enough not to leave us there.”

Our bad habits/sins are completely pardoned through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. As we grow in our journey with Christ, this brings about new desires, new motives, new affections. These all affect our choices. These choices lead to new behaviour.  Romans 12:2 says that we do this by not conforming to the world, but being transformed by the renewing of our minds. The more we take in the promises of God in Christ, and the less we expose ourselves to the world’s ways, then our hearts begin to change.

This study isn’t about improving ourselves. The focus is not on the consequences of our bad habits, although there are. It is about hating the sin itself and desiring God in its place. We take the focus off of ourselves and onto Jesus.

Praying your study time will be honest, fruitful and life giving as the Holy Spirit teaches you through God’s Word.

Search me

 

 

 

IDENTITY IN CHRIST

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Hannah Spruijt, contributor of today’s post

Have you ever tried throwing a pot? No, I don’t mean chucking a saucepan across the kitchen! I mean using clay and getting your hands dirty as you try and mould the spinning lump into something useful. It’s much harder than it looks; I speak from experience! My husband and I were given a pottery ‘experience’ voucher as a wedding gift and I had visions of us creating beautiful mugs and bowls with ease. When we arrived, the potter demonstrated making a simple bowl using deft and delicate movements. Then it was our turn. Oh dear! We both managed to make a huge mess of our lumps of clay and needed the help of the master potter to walk away with anything worth looking at!

The Bible talks about God being a master potter. Isaiah 64 v 8 says “We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand”. This imagery came into my mind recently while I was struggling to find my identity. I realised I felt differently about myself depending on who I spent my time with. How is it that I can feel a better or worse mother, or more or less physically attractive, or a better or worse home-maker etc. depending on the people around me that I compare myself to? There lies the rub. Comparisons were causing my heart to sin and leading to pride or envy and false guilt. In our women’s studies we have been looking at being proactive in seeking God’s wisdom in our everyday life choices; this is a grass-roots choice to see ourselves as God does and to find our identity in Him alone. I know my true identity is found in Christ, yet so often my focus wanders from this. I need to choose to find my identity in him and reject all other thoughts that do not come in line with how God sees me.

My husband often tells me it is no good trying to get rid of negative thoughts without replacing them with God’s truth. Here are some of the truths of the Bible we can use to help us:

Genesis 1 v 27 says “So God created human beings in his own image” (NLT). Knowing we are made in God’s image provides us with a solid basis for self-worth. If we criticise or downgrade ourselves, we criticise what God has made and the abilities He has given us. We are reflections of God’s glory; we can reflect His character in our love, patience, forgiveness, kindness and faithfulness.

Ephesians 2 v 10 says “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (NLT). I love the word ‘masterpiece’. It makes me think of a beautiful piece of hand-crafted art; knowing that God sees me this way changes the way I see myself.

In John 15 v 9 Jesus says “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (NLT). I sing the song ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so’ every day to my son but I don’t often let the words sink into my heart. He loves me! He loves you! This mind-boggling love, that sent Him to the cross, shapes who we are as His followers.

We have a choice to listen and so fill our minds with God’s truth that there is no room for Satan’s lies.Expose unhelpful comparisons with God’s truth and replace them with the knowledge that you are God’s masterpiece to fulfill His purposes through you. Our identity is in Christ!

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5-BIBLE STUDY QUESTIONS

habitsHi girls, Friday is here and continuing to pray Ephesians 1:15-20 over you.

5 BIBLE STUDY QUESTIONS are available to you online. We are considering “ACCUMULATION OF OUR CHOICES: HABITS-GOOD OR BAD?” Hard copies will also be available at church beginning Sunday.

Before you say yikes and run the other way, I want to encourage you that it won’t be as painful as it sounds. This is part of our growth together as sisters in Christ. So grab your study buddy and your cuppa, and enjoy the riches of God’s wisdom!

Love, Kathy xo

Following Christ Isn’t a Checklist, But a Daily Heart Choice

Hi girlfriends!

images (11)This past week I have been pondering all that Scripture is teaching us in applying Its wisdom in the everyday places of our lives. The Word of God IS all sufficient. It gives us everything we need for life and godliness. And, it IS relevant!  But sometimes I struggle with trying to connect the dots; to allow the Holy Spirit to build the bridge from Its wisdom into my heart in daily life.  I think I’m trying too hard because “I can’t see the forest for the trees!”

Relationship with JesusAnd that’s the point. My legalistic background says, do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that! Following Christ is not a check list, but a relationship. Following Christ is a daily heart choice. It is the conviction that as we are certain of God’s Word and Christ’s love, we will begin to be free to follow Him with our whole heart.

I was sharing at our Bible study that I don’t like messy. But I AM messy. I am a sinner. But IN my messiness, I can make wise choices in the midst of my fears, foolishness, and feelings.

What do my fears look like? Fear of failing, fear of what others think of me, fear of the unknown, fear of missing God’s best, fear of saying the wrong thing, fear of whether I should speak…or not.

Foolishness. Hmmm. I am certain I have blind spots in this area. But for the grace of God, I would be a foolish wreck! God has been growing me through the years with my foolishness.Still, there are times when I speak before thinking; when I am duped by Satan’s lies; when I negatively react instead of prayerfully respond; when I think I can do life in my own strength.

Feelings. Wow, they go all over the place at times. Feelings are something God gives me. They have their proper place because they are part of who I am. Not a pretty picture though, when I allow my feelings to dictate my behavior and choices– which then affects my relationships, including my relationship with Jesus. And it is not just sad, mad, bad stuff going on. It manifests in a behavior of MY entitlement,MY justifications, MY own way and MY self pity; with a party of one.

So, reader, you may ask why I am sharing my ugly, messy tendencies? Three reasons: First, if you can relate to them, I want you to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. If you can’t relate to them, you have other struggles. SO you are not alone.You are a sinner, just like me! Your new self, though redeemed, is still fallen.  There is tension within us until we are with Jesus. Second, the way of wisdom is an ongoing process. In order to practice and grow in this, we need to be AWARE of where we may be listening to the Word of God but not doing it; not practicing wisdom in our daily living. Third, we don’t have to stay there. In fact, God commands us not to! (James 1:22) We can learn from our messiness, and grow in wisdom through this process. But we must also help each other to move forward. How choices_logodo we do it? Choose-One prayer at a time. One scripture at a time. One life group at a time. One sermon at a time. Choosing to journey with God and one another in humility and love.  It is not from  the perspective of a checklist but of a daily surrendering, “I love Jesus because He first loved me” and “I am certain of God’s ways are the only way” heart choice!   In this we will love God more and more. We will begin to know God better. And wisdom in Him will slowly grow and mature in us! We will know a hope and the same power which God raised Christ from the dead!

So let’s spur one another on in the freedom of following Christ with our whole heart-one choice at a time!  I will be praying Paul’s prayer written below over you all this week. Love, Kathy xo

Ephesians 1:15-23 (NIV)

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

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