The Wind of the Spirit

Nancy Demary

dandelions-691928__480Romans 8:14-15 (AMP) “ For all who are allowing themselves to be led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading again to fear [of God’s judgment], but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons [the Spirit producing sonship] by which we [joyfully] cry, “Abba! Father!”

As God’s adopted children, knowing our position in the Kingdom of God gives us the confidence we need to overcome fear.  Remember who your Father is — Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of heaven and earth!  Romans, Chapter 8 declares that as obedient children in God’s family we can be free from condemnation and live as His own adopted children, available to freely serve our Father as He created us to.  Fear is a major hindrance that binds us from this freedom.

Fear is used by the enemy of our soul…

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There’s Room for You

Nancy Demary

Christmas AloneAs we consider Christmas, I’d like to remind you that there is room for you close to God’s heart. He desires a relationship with us and awaits your reciprocal desire for Him. His extension of love by giving Jesus Christ as our deliverer is the greatest expression of love He could show.

Christmas alone 2This time of year can feel cruel to many people. A time when love, laughter, and Christmas cheer is promoted, many feel lonely and isolated. There are so many stories that could be shared as to why, yet I’d rather focus on how to remedy this condition.

I received a Christmas card telling of someone dear to me who is facing consequences for their addiction to gambling. It is heartbreaking to see how families of those habituated to some life-dominating problem are drawn into the sad drama of someone else’s poor choices. We feel helpless, and if…

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Compassion

You do not know God by being compassionate, you become compassionate by knowing God.

How do I know if I am a compassionate person? Well, comparing ourselves among ourselves is not how we determine this. Rather, we should look at what Paul teaches in Colossians about compassion and see how we’re doing.

Jesus Christ is the perfect example of compassion. Mark 6:34 says, “And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.”

Use Discernment

There is so much need in our world that giving should be a part of our everyday lives. We give by serving, teaching, helping, and by sharing God’s love found in His Word with those around us. We should not only give to those who may return something to us, but we are encouraged to give to those who may never know us as their benefactor.

By nature, we are self-centered. In order for us to be truly compassionate we need an infusion of God’s divine nature (2Peter 1:4). Do you remember the parable Jesus spoke in Matthew 18: 23-35? He used an example of a king who was owed money, yet the servant was unable to repay him, so he begged for mercy and the king had compassion upon him and forgave him the debt he owed. But that same servant then turned around and went to someone who owed much less to him, and demanded that his borrower repay him everything he owed. The question the king then posed is: Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you? It’s a picture of God’s generous mercy and compassion toward us, yet we often fail to do the same for others.

Self-Check

One way to tell if you are compassionate toward others is seen in your dedication to bringing hope to another soul. This can be done in a variety of ways, it helps to check your audit trail to see how your doing.

Do you carry a lifestyle of debt because of self-consumption? Compare your ongoing spending to how much are you giving out weekly or monthly to others? Following your treasure trail is a good way of determining your compassion level. Money is a primary root that shows what is growing from your tree.

A heart that is free of unforgiveness and bitterness is another. Has God forgiven you, yet you fail to forgive others?

Is your life consumned with your job, your house, your people and your interests? Or do you intentionally care for others with your time, talent and treasure?

God initiates

Our Father had compassion upon us when we weren’t even aware that we needed it. Think about salvation, how long did it take for you to realize that you desperately needed what God was offering you? Once the reality of your need was revealed, how did you respond?

God is the proactive, compassionate one in our world. When we express compassion to another it’s because He has first extended it to us and then puts His virtue into our hearts. Sometimes we express compassion for our own purposes, at other times God uses us for His divine plan.

Do you remember in Exodus 2:6 where it tells of Pharaoh’s daughter extending compassion toward the baby found in the river? “And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, this is one of the Hebrews’ children.” God placed compassion into the daughter of Pharaoh in order to save Moses’ life.

When we look at God’s compassion toward us, His creation, we see that it is His desire to multiply Himself and His character in our world through our lives. He demonstrated His compassion to us in offering salvation. John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Your response will determine your ability to increase in compassion to others.

Our Response

So, how do I know if I am a compassionate person? For the believer, we find in Colossians what Paul indicates our response to God’s compassion to us should be.

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy (compassion), kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:1-17).

Wow! That’s a lot right there. For the Christian, this is our script; here we have the goals for our life. It involves putting off our former, sinful ways and taking on the new way of life patterned after Christ. Look at what it says. It may feel impossible to be transformed as Paul writes here, but slowly you will if you allow the Holy Spirit to work in you.

Use Wisdom

Remember there are two kingdoms that believers are a part of simultaneously: the kingdom of this world and God’s Kingdom. They will never be reconciled prior to Jesus Christ’s coming to judge this world. So, do not become confused as to why there cannot be unity between the two: one is ruled by fallen principalities (Satan and his demons) the other by God (and His angels). We are daily caught in the tension between the two, as Jesus demonstrated and taught us.

We need to exercise wisdom concerning compassion we offer. Even within God’s kingdom, you’ll encounter those who are not in pursuit of what Paul is talking about. So, be careful as you attempt to care for someone as this could become a problem if you are not grounded firmly in scripture. Let me explain.

There are well-meaning, “compassionate” people who serve as enablers (aka codependents). By that I mean they want to do good for everybody, even to the point of being snared into a trap of the enemy (Jude 21-23). They find their fulfillment by taking on another’s responsibility and are used wrongfully. On both sides this becomes a form of idolatry. A very self-centered person, knowingly or not, will latch onto to an enabler. If you find yourself in relationship with someone like this, slow things down, and ask someone to help you discern the relationship. Your “compassion” may be serving to further feed their “flesh” that really needs to die (Col. 3:5-6).

I remember twenty years ago while living in Romania, I needed a pastor to help me with compassion as it pertained to beggars on the street. He explained scenarios in which the beggars make much more money by their “trade” than doing ligitimate work each day as the scripture teaches. Rather than humbling themselves and asking for help from God through the church, they deceive others. My “compassion” was fueling an unhealthy begging situation for this person and the upcoming generations. We can see this in our country through our social welfare system and how it has rendered many to become beggars.

As we exercise compassion, let us walk in humility and follow the Master’s pattern in scripture. Discern, learn from scripture, use wisdom to bring glory to God, He alone rightly deserves praise for any good that we have done.

Destroying Relationships

Fighting over who is elected as the next President seems to be a worthy cause for some, even to the point of damaging lasting family relationships. In jabs, barbs, texts, FB posts, the style of banter used reveals the value you place upon your relationships.

So, what are your relationships worth? Are you the type who gives your view and then huffs off, thinking “There, I let them have it! Now they know what I think.”  Perhaps you’re a mocker, one who uses sarcasm to get your feelings out on another.

Depending on the emotional health and relational well-being of our family of origin, we find ourselves somewhere on the scale. Unfortunately, many of us did not have good teaching or examples with this and have had to learn the hard way, the humble way, but hopefully we have learned! If not, we should.

So many families right now are under stress, or duress, when interacting with a member who is adamant about who everyone should vote for. Some take it to social media and with pride attempt to outwit the other. We’ve all seen it and have likely been tempted ourselves to jump in with our 2 cents, but then thought better of it.

How can you tell the difference between someone simply sharing their feelings or information on what they believe, versus these powerplays of viciousness and/or manipulation? It’s revealed by what’s in their heart. Step back and use your discernment and good relationship skills to respond. Sadly, there are many enabler-types who feed right into the hands of these hubristic people… I used to be one of them.

These interactions reveal someone’s relational heart-health and if poor, that will lead to broken relationships. Circumstances bring out what has been hidden. The old elephant in the room usually gets prodded a bit during election seasons, throw in Covid-19 with its accompanying fears, and some are ready to devour their family members.

Here’s a few reasons why some people are unable or unwilling to surrender to the higher call of love (Romans 13:10).

1. Poor Relationship Skills – This is often fear driven. It causes one to assert themselves and expect others to conform or agree with their view, often manipulating others through authority, anger, relationship, revenge, shame, etc. to agree with them.

On Facebook you see this with the “likes” and “comments” others make to this type of person. You can sense the pressure upon the peer or sub to accommodate their poor statement, thought, or even an emotional rant. But in order to comply with the dominant, they indicate agreement anyway! Very foolish–it is the worst thing one can do as it reinforces the persons poor emotional health and they are deceived into thinking they actually are doing okay by acting this way. They also think they have genuine friends, when it’s their manner that produces these conformist “friends”.

2. Elitism – This political ideology believes some are bright & right (according to their worldview) and others are not able to make a sound decision, so they feel like they should have the authority to do it for them.

(Wikipedia: Elitism is the belief or notion that individuals who form an elite—a select group of people described as having an intrinsic quality, high intellect, wealth, special skills, or experience—are more likely to be constructive to society as a whole, and therefore deserve influence or authority greater than that of others.)

As with salvation, God’s gift is freely offered and while those of us with a Biblical Worldview believe it’s the right choice for all people, we cannot, should not, force this upon someone (remember the 4th century Roman Empire?). The Holy Spirit draws a heart and they alone must choose Christ to be their King. Compelling another with a godly life and heart of love is the way of the Master, not elitism. While Truth is valuable and must be shared, we cannot force another to believe.

3. Fear of the Future. If you are a believer, a follower of Christ, you can trust that God will take care of you; your life is in His Hands. Believing that the next President holds greater sway in your life than God does is a form of unbelief and is demonstrated by fear. When you live as God desires, He replaces fear with confidence in Him. I John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with torment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” The Holy Spirit in us helps us love those who oppose us, and calls us to this higher love that Jesus taught us.

It is very important for us to voice our concern by our vote over the issues in government that we see as right or wrong. We also must acknowledge that God is sovereign and is over all that happens in our (His) world and as finite beings we may have difficulty reconciling the two. Yet, we do our part by taking responsibility in letting our views be known in a variety of peaceable ways and we pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Then, God takes our obedience to Him or lack thereof and does the rest.

Scripture indicates often throughout the Old Testament that God raises up and brings down Kingdoms; there are many examples if this. We also know that God influences the heart of the King (or President). That explains why we may see someone, unlikely in our view, doing something that upholds God’s righteous ways. It doesn’t make sense but it happens because God is doing something through it. (Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turns it whithersoever he will.)

Of course, there are other reasons for poor behavior in relationships leading up to and following this election, but these three give us enough to think about and hopefully each of us will examine our hearts and see where our health meter is sitting. Is your heart for others, or against others? It is to bring peace while disagreeing on a matter or to engage war?

I wrote this poem, Step Back, many years ago and it seems to fit here. When we are re-acting to someone or something that is happening, we get ourselves into trouble. But if we will act, after thoughtful moments, we find that we are much better at responding properly.

STEP BACK

When life seems quite overwhelming,
and you feel the need to take charge.
Be careful you honor the scripture.
for pains of consequence are large.

If you will take gently a step back,
consider your ways and be wise,
you’ll soon see your Father’s instruction,
in your situation proved wise.

Step back and make room for the Lord,
give time for His will to reveal.
Instead of you charging forward,
with error your future to seal.

Wait! God will in His timing,
use peace to measure the score.
And if that is not present within you,
Step back, do not engage war.

God guides by these simple treasures,
His Word, obedience, and peace.
And when, all these three are present,
the warring and tumult will cease.

So step back and do an assessment,
and see where you’re missing the mark,
adjust and then humbly go forward,
with God’s favor and peace in your heart.

Photo Credit: Google Images

Grace-led Recovery

new-dayMany regular folks view recovery as something for those who have addictions like drugs, alcohol, gambling, gaming, pornography, etc. But do you realize that every human soul has a need for recovery from sin?

September is marked as Recovery Month. Those who are a part of a recovery group or involved in working among those recovering from some hurt, hang-up or habit, know how important it is to get to and through the doorway called recovery.  Step one is to stop denying and acknowledge the problem.

All have sinned (Romans 3:23)

Because we are born under the curse of sin, we suffer from its consequences. We have a bent toward that which is wrong, from the day we are born until we die. So, what does life look like for those who understand the journey into recovering from this human condition?

  1. A healthy emotional life is marked by intimacy.

daisy-712892__480Do your relationships carry an openness of heart? The ability to relate at a level deeper that the topical, “How do you do?” Intimacy is marked by openness of heart, not necessarily agreement always, but the ability to express your feelings without shame or embarrassment of reprisal from the other. When two individuals, or more, are able to interact and exchange their views at this level, intimacy will grow.

  1. Removal of denial.

We all have instances of denial that must be dealt with in various stages ofDoorway life. A humility of heart allows us to be open to seeing things for what they are. God reveals to us changes that He would like to help us with when we humble ourselves. When denial falls off, opportunity knocks on our door. Until a person truly sees their need for God’s grace to come in and change something that is disordered in their life, they will be blinded to their need. Here again a heart of humility and acknowledgement of sin is crucial.

  1. God’s has better things ahead for you.

God is the author of HOPE!  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13). Believing that God has a greater plan for you, no matter where you’ve been is what His grace is all about. Doing our part, the work of recovering from whatever besetting sin has captured our heart, will place us on the road to the opportunities God has for us. With victory comes the warning: Peter tells us to be sober and vigilant because our adversary is out to destroy us (IPeter 5:8).

In recovery, sobriety is a fearful place, never quite sure you’ll keep it going… white knuckling through life is no way to live. Always a lurking fear that you’ll fall back into your habit. Discovering and walking in God’s grace is a secure place to live, knowing that He carries you. There is a big difference.

adult-1868652__480Real joy comes to our lives daily as we walk in God’s Grace. Seeking Him daily in His Word and having a tender heart to hear His voice, rejoicing in the fact that He loves us brings us peace. This is the ongoing nature of a recovered heart. It doesn’t stop and say, “There, I’ve done it.” It continues onward, ever growing and glorifying God by what He desires to do through our lives.

So how about you? Are you in recovery from the Fall (Genesis 3)? Have you reached out to the Hand of help through Jesus Christ the Savior of all mankind? If not, do it today! Decide today to move into a place of actively pursuing all God has planned for your life.