I wonder if you have woken up every morning doing 'quiet time' for so long now, yet that routine has become an 'obligation' with no life whatsoever?
You pray at certain times and read the Bible regularly; still the good revelations and the deep findings remain in the past! You seem to have lost the 'crave' to reach out and get excited by these activities and what is left at the moment is thirst unquenchable. The days flash-by in front of your eyes carrying little difference from each other. You wonder how long this stage will continue and if you ever will get to that point of enjoyment again!
I have seen that, with time God has stressed and dried these very noble habits in my life, always bringing me into a wilderness spot. The things that worked before did not make the slightest difference now and the water that I have drunk for so long has lost its taste and become uninspired. This can be a confusing time as we think "something must be wrong, these habits are good and godly habits, I mustn't feel this way!"
Right away the urge is to be more diligent with the habit and force yourself into another program perhaps, but the real answer stands within the habit itself!
This very noble Habit stands tall and shouts in its corner "look at me”! I could hear people often say “how good of you Lea, to wake up early, read and study diligently ...... I felt very good about myself, but my habit had swallowed up all my desire and I had left God as the purpose, the motive behind the habit, to be pleased with just me showing up! I had paid more attention to the habit than to God and that approach could not quench my thirst, I was parched and dry.
God does not want good habits from us, he wants to change our hearts so that through that process the habit disappears and Christ appears!
Our lives are not meant to be a collection of good habits, but lives without habits, just Jesus all along! We are not supposed to master ourselves, but let Christ master us through the Holy Spirit!
If our habits after a while have not turned into a virtue, becoming who we really are starting at home, church, street, work and everywhere somehow along the way the habit has become bigger than the purpose and has left us with nothing than its outside badge!
If you feel dry and unmotivated today see if your habit has taken the Lord's place. After a while our habits should be so immersed in Jesus that what we do is who we are. The practice of those habits has become 'flesh' and you are feeling at home with The Lord!
Habits can complicate our lives when they become the focus and sometimes hinder God and His work in our life!
For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). (2 Peter 1:8 AMP)
I like tomorrow! It's the day when I will eat less cake and more salad and grilled fish! It's the day when I will take my running shoes out of the downstairs store cupboard, blow the sedentary dust away and finally 'break them in'. It's the perfect day to start to deal with those broken relationship issues that have been lingering for far too long, their grey clouds following me around everywhere.
I have decided it will be the day to forgive and let go of so many past and present hurts that I have hoarded carefully. It will be the perfect day to start to cut myself off from those few friends who somehow find a way to pull me in the wrong direction where I make the most regrettable decisions. I have decided it will be the day I surprise my husband with a romantic meal and night out, the weather is supposed to be good tomorrow! Of course it's the day that I will be yelling less and be sweeter with my children. I will read more, give more, encourage more, remember more..... Yes - I will!?
Author James T. McCay said “Tomorrow, you promise yourself, things will be different, yet, tomorrow is too often a repetition of today. And you disappoint yourself again and again.”
Wy is so hard to do the right things? What does Apostle Paul meant when he said that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:31)? Can we overcome food cravings, hurt and pain, temper tantrums and anger habits? Or was it just something sweet to say to believers in Rome so their mind would be comforted?
Paul is not talking of imaginary things here; he is not trying to soothe our conscience momentarily. What he is saying is that: food will invite us to feast daily but in the midst of it Christ will give us strength to take the right choices and not be bossed by it! Hurts and pain will be present in our life but Christ’s love is stronger than any of them and will lead us hand in hand through those experiences! Unforgiveness will present itself as reasonable most of the time, but Christ's Grace will find a way to release others from that grip. The tendency to shout and lose your cool erupts effortlessly when faced with our mountains of chores, but Christ’s strength is made perfect in our weakness!
Either Jesus is who the Bible says He is and we through Him are more than able to stand through temptation, pain, hurt and loss or we are deluded in our faith and the new life that he promised!
Ok, how to see which one is the truth?
Look back and see your life from the moment Christ entered your story! Look back and see the lives of countless faithful friends and saints through history! You will notice that the love of Christ has never failed either you or them on living victoriously!
So let all our "Tomorrow I will" become "Now is the time! This is the place and I am the one who Christ uses to overcome all which challenges me to live free"!
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? Rom 8:31 MSG
Sitting on the dirt outside the city gate four outcasts stare at the ground! The feeling of being unwelcome and ignored by people has deformed their posture totally, leaving only their hands extended for alms.
They have to remain there day-by-day for it is their only hope to stay alive! There in that very place, although hated and despised, people entering or going out of the city would take pity on them and throw scraps of bread for them to feed.
But those days have long gone, and the hope of filling their bellies had melted like butter in scorching sun.
For the city had long since seen people enter to do business inside. Hunger had spread like wildfire throughout the whole corners of the city and now everyone is in the same desperate boat called Famine.
No one who is able and strong, not even the king dares to leave his castle. The fear of the enemy has pushed the city to do unthinkable acts driven by hunger and desperation. The silence of any activity is only disturbed by the rumbling of their empty stomachs.
What must they do?
Suddenly, the eyes of the lepers light up. It is a foolish and daring idea that leads them to action for themselves. Life has become too dire and the decision to wait now stands on the 'death' side of the spectrum.
There are two things that move the hearts of men, inspiration or desperation!
"Why should we sit here waiting to die?" they ask each other. "Leprosy keeps us outside the famine struck city, standing here means nothing but a direct invitation to death. What do we have to lose? Let's take our chances and try! The worse that can happen is for us to die, and that will happen whether we decide to stay or go."
What is keeping us from trying daring and bold steps towards a better future? If death is not on the list then we are in much better position than these fours lepers outside the city gate!
A lot of times we give fear the permission of 'what if that happens' to ruin the chances of 'that good thing might happen'.
Trembling and weak the lepers approach the enemy camp. Their ears are dulled by the silence surrounding the camp and their eyes are enlarged by the food and stuff inviting them inside! There is nobody to be seen!
They did not know that the moment they had awoken to 'try' their chances the Lord had multiplied their steps and increased their sound which had struck fear into the enemy’s hearts causing them to run for their lives, leaving all the food and riches behind.
We forget that what God wants is our courage in Him that says 'I will go', and 'I will try' then He himself marches first and welcomes us right there.
The abundance of food looked so surreal to their minds that they had to be dragged by their bellies to taste the reality. Oh the impatience in chewing and drinking, for it had been too long for the poor leprous mouths waiting for this moment. They hid masses of that too, for they knew soon the camp would be discovered and food would be scarce and a luxury to find.
Then, the jaws stop munching, their heads start lifting - something is not right. Yes, they love the food and the plunder but what about the people dying inside the city?
Yes, they had been mean to them and merciless a lot of times, but this was a miracle not just for them.
Like salvation, after we have tasted and enjoyed first we must share it with others.
It was hard to approach and knock on the city gate. Trying to convince the gate keepers to what they had found was hard too - who listens to some lepers? But they did not stop until someone listened so that the king and all the people were saved.
“Who can ignore someone that has tasted, enjoyed and handled the very thing you are looking for?”
What would your bold attempt do? Who or what is waiting in the city on the other side of our attempt?
Is it freedom, healing, victory, success - or just fear? The worse that can happen is that you tried -yeah? Remember that our boldness and wimpy action both speak a language that somehow directs and influences not only the path of our life but those we nurture and who look up to us.
A paraphrase from 2 Kings 7:3-9
The morning breeze cuts through her naked body, penetrating fear to her soul. She is shaking as the hands of many men force her to move through the narrow streets heading towards the temple. Her lover is not with her, nor had he tried to protect or follow her in her fate. The eyes of many are piercing through her body, the oxygen is escaping from her lungs and her legs are giving up with panic. She is alone!
She knows today is the day that an ugly death, death by stoning has come to elope with her and the very thought of it rushes like a hurricane into her shaking head.
All her life she had looked for love and today that 'love' was leading her to pay the ultimate price.
She has been thrown into the middle of the temple outside court where a new Rabbi has been teaching that morning. The accusation of many voices floods the place and the stench of sex darkens the atmosphere. "This woman should be stoned" someone shouts, "we caught her red-handed in the act of adultery" the others join in, holding stones in their hands.
The woman lying on the cold stony floor shakes involuntarily
The new Rabbi is silent. He has approached the circle where the woman has curled her body and with his finger writes on the hard ground. No one knows what He writes in the dirt, but as the voices of the people continue badgering he stands up and says:
“He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” (John 8:7 (b) NKJV)
Yes, just one word, and then He continued to write some more in the dirt.
You could have seen the penny dropping everywhere in the room. Their consciences exposing their sins and the convicted souls dropped the stones on the ground and left the court room leaving none but the young Rabbi and the woman.
She can't hear the silence. Her eyes have been forcefully shut for a while now and she does not understand if she is dead or deaf. A soft touch to her head penetrates the darkness inside her and she awakes to a soft voice saying “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” (John 8:10 NLT)
She opens her eyes and looks around. There is no one there, no one to look at her in disgust, to shame her, to accuse and hurt her. She looks at the one standing with her and for the first time in her life she feels protected, safe! His merciful words wiped the fear and terror from her body dressing her with love, compassion and a new hope
The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; (Psalms 103:8, 11 NKJV)
His Mercy, so astonishing and breathtaking! His forgiveness so undeserved and scandalous!
Mercy is the weapon that fights guilt to the very last resistance. Any kind of guilt, the visible and the invisible, the big and the small, guilt that comes from true events and the one that lingers from the lies imagined or told.
His mercy always triumphs over strict justice. Just when you think you are about to slip into a deep cliff you see His mercy rushing by and holding you tight in His Steadfast Love.