Secret Place Devotion published Monday, August 18, 2014
THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6
Words live on in our memories and certainly help to chart our destinies. They cannot be taken back nor can they be completely erased from our memories. We often hear words of affirmation or criticism play back in our minds years after they were spoken.
Our words can be gifts to others. Everyone needs compliments and words of encouragement. Sometimes friends seek direction or ask for advice which we can readily supply through spoken words.
When I first encounter another person, I try to set aside my own agenda and attempt to discover what his or her mindset might be. What is troubling her? What is uppermost on his mind? What concerns does she have? What victories does he long to share? Then my words have the potential to be grace filled gifts.
Prayer: Holy God, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you.” (Psalm 19:14)
One of my favorite verses is Psalm 106: 1 “Give thanks to the Lord for His love endures forever.” Our society seems to be skipping Thanksgiving (except for the big dinner plan) to get us to focus on Christmas earlier and earlier. We do ourselves a great disservice when we fall into this trap. Let us be mindful of the benefits that come back to us as we set aside time to be think about and to be thankful for all our blessings. There is an old hymn that says, “Count your many blessings name them one by one, count your many blessings see what God has done.” Indeed this is a good exercise as we think of Thanksgiving which of course celebrates the pilgrims survival in the new world.
© Peggy Park 2014.
I like the word gratitude as I think of Thanksgiving. I associate the word with other people where as I think of Thanksgiving as focusing more on God and His blessings. It was a great exercise for me to sit one day and make a list of what my parents sowed into my life. Then I thought of others who have been very significant and from whom I have learned and been blessed. I read a book ( I don’t remember the name) where a man determined to write a thank you note every day of the year to someone who had influenced him or impacted his life. While I am not going that far, I thought it was a great idea. He reported how it changed his attitude and caused him to be more positive in his outlook.
© Peggy Park 2014
My sister’s freedom in her new life in heaven offers an insight into the ultimate freedom followers of Christ will experience after their time on earth is complete. We do not have to wait until we die to know great freedom if we embrace “God’s principles” for living which I have touched on in my recent posts. Those principles are out lined and discussed in my book Unshackled. The world tells us freedom is found in doing your own thing but we know it is found in doing life His way. After all He created us and knows exactly how we function best. Give it a try in the hard areas that may challenge you such as for forgiving someone who has hurt you deeply.
The story is told of a man who held a heavy bag on his lap throughout a long train ride in a foreign country. Upon disembarking the conductor asked why he had not put it down. The man replied he did not know there was a place to put it. As followers of Jesus Christ Scripture tells us we have a place to put our heavy burdens. We just have to remember to put them down in prayer. I discuss this in the chapter on Surrender in my book Unshackled.
One of the greatest challenges we face in life is laying down our self-will. We may also face having to let go of relationships and our expectations of others. Habits and additions may be the issue with some of us. It is so good to know we have a savior who delights in having our burdens rolled over onto Him. I just read a story of a person in a foreign country who was an alcoholic and wanted to be free. The missionary who was passing through the town prayed with him and told him to call out the name of Jesus every time he wanted to head to the bar for a drink. He was indeed set free as he called aloud on Jesus in his temptation.
Friendships are a cause for celebration. They can be very challenging as most of us want our own agenda and would like to be heard and priority given to our needs. Friendships that endure require work and sensitivity to our friend’s needs.
I have given guidelines for healthy friendships in chapter seven of Unshackled. Jealously and envy are two of the things we must guard against. We all have had disappointments in our friendships, but we extend mercy when friends do not meet our expectations.
Attentive, focused listening is a great gift to give to another person. Let us resolve to be the kind of friend we would like to have for ourselves.
Most of the words spoken since the creation of the world have been forgotten. Some words, however, are remembered for years. These are the words that build up and affirm others, and the words that wound. One woman recounted how being called “dumb as a door knob” by a parent had oppressed her for fifty years. She then discovered how to be free as she refused to let those words continue echoing in her head. How did she do this? She examined the statement spoken into her spirit and determined it was not true. It had been a “word curse” over her life that held her captive for years and years. She forgave the parent who harmed her with these words, and now she is free of the chain that had bound her for so long. Do you have someone you need to forgive for the words they spoke to, or about you?
Many of us have experienced struggles with forgiving those who have hurt and wronged us. In addition we may need to forgive ourselves for immature, un- thought out actions and reactions we have had.
For the serious follower of Jesus Christ forgiving is not optional. In fact the Lord’s prayer ties it to our own forgiveness. I certainly do not want to let my attitude towards someone else keep me from the best God has for me. Forgiving does not mean we think the other person was right in what they did to us, it does not mean we have to go back into the same closeness we had with them before the offense occurred. It does mean we free them to let God do His work and we do not try to do it for Him. It is very freeing to release the results to Him and just “let it go.” It can be quite a struggle but it is well worth it. After all none of us have the extreme situation Jesus had as He hung on the cross and He said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Unshackled has some specific helps for those who are facing the difficulty of forgiving someone.
Do you struggle with people who just tick you off big time? Are you constantly having to deal with feeling of being ignored, misunderstood, or insulted? What others say and do may keep us in a state of agitation and unrest. To live as free men and women it is crucial to learn to guard against taking offense.
I try to remember that others have their own set of wounds and immaturity. This helps me extend mercy to them in challenging situations, so I don’t let offenses take root. We are all “walking wounded” in some area of our lives.
Frances Frangipane states, “the destiny God has for man unfolds or dies at the junction of offense. How we handle offense is the key to our tomorrow.” He also stated, “Taking offense turns off the power of God in our lives.”
It is a great victory when we begin to practice letting offenses go. It is like seeing a chain ready to wrap around us and we duck to avoid it. The same principle applies to our spirit when we do not allow an offense to take root. It becomes easier and easier to just “let it go.”
I love the quote, “With divine fingers God shapes every person in the womb into an image and form like His own. Each precisely etched embryo is a person whom God has laid out for his own use from eternity past. Each of us has been known and loved since the beginning of time even before the world was made.” Calvin Miller
Learning to appreciate and embrace our unique identity is difficult for some of us. I have compared this struggle to putting labels on ourselves (compared to post it notes) as we try out various roles and talents to see what fits and what we are good at.
In the book, Unshackled, I have given tips for discovering your true identity. I have also emphasized that there are no “super stars.” The important thing is to learn how you were uniquely created and embrace those talents and roles.
There is no insignificant place of service. The most humble task may have a profound influence in someone’s life. Jesus said that even a cup of water given in his name if the same as serving him.
Many of us have lived in the belief that having an ungodly thought flash across our minds is sin. We have hung our heads in shame and felt defeated in our Christian walk.
It freed me when I learned that the thought is not the sin! The sin lies in what we do with it. If we let it in, it leads to shame. Doubt, anxiety, anger, and nervousness show up and disrupt our physical and spiritual rest. We have the power to refuse to let the thought in when it comes knocking on the door of our minds.
I believe that thoughts are triggered by these four sources:
- Our own minds (past experiences, preconceived ideas, wrong teaching, things we take in through the senses.
- The words or actions of others
- The evil one, Satan
The Bible tells us, “We have the mind of Christ.” (I Cor. 2:16b nlt) But we have to choose to let that mind determine our thoughts and behavior instead of our un-renewed mind, which may have controlled us for many years.
I am indebted to Anabel Gillham for the following four steps to victory in our thought life.
- Recognize –Examine the thought to see where it came from. Have you been exposing yourself to visual or mental stimuli that would have caused your mind to go in the wrong direction? I think of this like shining a light on the thought.
- Refuse – If an intruder tried to gain entrance to your physical house, your attitude and actions would be “Stop!” In the same manner an undesirable thought can be stopped on the threshold of your mind. Do not play around with the thought and let it implant itself and gain expression through inappropriate actions. If the thought is not consistent with Scripture we are not to accept it. Think of holding up a stop sign.
- Remember “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:11 nkjv). Consider the provision of victory over sin which Jesus’ death on the cross provided through his blood sacrifice. Think of the cross.
- Rest Rest in the victory and remember we are no longer slaves to sin. For some of us it is s lifelong discipline and continuing challenge to cast off chains of worry and live out the Scripture, “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard our hearts and minds as we live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (nlt)
I hope you who are reading this will find it as helpful as I have found it in my own experience.
It is explained further in my book Unshackled.
It is strengthening to reflect on what was really accomplished at the cross in what the church world calls Easter. Salvation was made possible for any man, woman or child who would accept Jesus’ sacrifice of His blood to remove their sins. It is a mystery that none of us can fully understand.
We have the Passover story (Exodus 12) to demonstrate the fact that God chose blood as the means by which deliverance for individuals, as well as families, was established. In the Passover event the blood of a perfect lamb was put on the door posts of the dwellings of the children of Israel to ensure that the death angel passed over the house. This was a picture of the salvation provided centuries later by the unblemished, spotless perfect Lamb of God, Jesus. By faith His blood has to be applied to our hearts to ensure our salvation.
What a wonderful gift He made available to all mankind who would accept His sacrifice.
The fountain flows continually as long as the power is not shut off or disconnected. This happens when we take matters into our own hands and refuse to surrender them to the Lord. Have you ever experienced the complete frustration when your self-will is struggling to have its own way? You know you have to yield if you are to stay in fellowship with the Lord, but the strong self is trying to pull the Lord over to our way of handling a situation. It is as if we are saying, “Lord let’s do it my way.” We have to make the decision as the challenges arise not to let our self will rule. There is such victory when we finally let go of the struggle and let the power flow again.
The fountain can be a place where you can clean off the dirt of the day; for example your dusty feet from wearing opened toed shoes. “For with you is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.” Psalm 36:9
We are often challenged with the dirt of offenses with others, unforgiveness, and wounds of various kinds. They try to settle on us. We have the power to resist, but if we do not we can find cleansing at the fountain. It is so refreshing to sit with Jesus and let Him wash those things off of us as we confess them and then release the situation to Him for cleansing.
The debris that we do not deal with will keep that living water in us from flowing freely out to others in our daily walk. I have certainly experienced trying to minister to another person when I was out of fellowship with the Lord. The power is blocked.
A water fountain has the ability to cool and soothe you in the heat of the day (symbolic of the spiritual battle we are encountering). Just sitting and contemplating the fountain He opened can help us in troubled times. He provided peace for us and He can speak peace to our souls in the midst of our storm. The peace is there we just have to determine to walk in it and keep our eyes on Jesus and not on the chaos around us. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27.