Posts Tagged ‘Habit’

Sin’s Progress

“Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression.” (Psalm 19:12-13)

Remind yourself that sin has a progress! It takes you further than you want to go, costs you more than you can pay… and it keeps you longer than you intended to stay. So give it no ground! (Jms. 1:13-16)
· It goes from passing temptation to chosen thought (errors).
· It goes from chosen thought to object of meditation.
· It goes from object of meditation to wished-for fulfillment.
· It goes from wished-for fulfillment to planned action (secret faults).
· It goes from planned action to opportunity sought.
· It goes from opportunity sought to performed act.
· It goes from action to repeated action.
· It goes from repeated action to delight (presumptuous sins).
· It goes from delight to new and various ways.
· It goes from new and various ways to habit. (idolatry)
· It goes from habit to idolatry, demanding to be served.
· It goes from idolatry to sacrifice.
· It goes from sacrifice to slavery. (bondage & dominion over me)

We can fight the good fight of faith: (2 Cor. 10:3-6)(Eph. 6:10-18)
1st) Pull down strongholds of the mind
2nd) Cast down everything that argues with the knowledge of God
3rd) Bring every thought into obedience to Christ
4th) Punish all disobedience, when obedience is achieved

Recognize that you do not have to open the door, when thoughts come knocking at your heart… don’t think about, meditate upon or even entertain evil thoughts, because they aim to rob you of your peace and joy in Christ! Hide the Word of God in your heart! (Psa. 119:11)(Heb. 4:12)

Flourishing

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the House of the Lord, they will flourish in the Courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; He is My Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him!’” (Psa. 92:12-15)

What does it mean to flourish “like a palm tree”? The Psalmist is speaking of a tree called the date palm. There are 5 powerful lessons from this palm tree that encourage us to become all God has called us to be. Today it really is our choice, we can flourish and be blessed… and show forth the praises of God even to the end of our natural life.

1. Remaining Strong:

The palm tree grew to a great height, up to 75 feet tall or 23 meters, reaching ages of 100-200 years. The promise of remaining strong all of our days is God’s will for us, because we walk by faith and not sight… by supernatural strength rather than natural energy.

2. Abundant Fruitfulness:

Throughout its life, the fruit of the date palm produced every year, and in great abundance. The fruit was released in clusters and with exceptional taste. This is God’s plan for the Believer; fruitful and consistent, so the unbelieving heart will see the abundant lifestyle. We are Blessed in the Beloved (Eph. 1:3-6)!

“I am the Vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” (Jn. 15:5)

3. Nothing Wasted:

An amazing fact about the date palm is that every part of it was useful. The palm leaves were used to cover homes and as material for fences. They were also useful for making baskets and other items. Even the seeds, when ground, produced food for camels. The richness of God’s resources; as it flows from the Child of God, is an inheritance that is both complete and enduring. Nothing passes into our lives that God would want to see wasted, because His creative nature is to redeem and uncover the “glory” within.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)

4. A Testimony of Praise:

The palm represented praise, victory and salvation. As a Believer, we are known from the platforms of our testimony. We overcome the devil by it, advance in the Kingdom with it and stand against our enemies for it… the testimony of the believing heart is praise! We shall praise the Lord no matter what and no matter when, for when God is on our side there is always victory and peace within our hearts. Peace is the Jewish word “Shalome” which means “nothing missing, nothing broken”.

  • Palm trees were a symbol of peace - the establishment of “Shalome”.
  • Palm trees were carved into the temple décor (1 Kings 6:29)
  • Palm branches were used in the feast of Tabernacles (Lev 23:40)
  • Palm leaves were thrown upon the ground in front of Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem. (Jn 12:13)
  • In Revelation, the great multitude of people saved from every nation wear white robes and hold palm branches in their hands. (Rev 7:9)

5. Planted in the House:

In the New Testament context, being planted in the House of God speaks of being firmly established in Christian community, in spiritual fellowship. We flourish, not in isolation, but together. As God’s People we are called to live in the cluster, where the fellowship is sweetest (Isa. 65:8). God tells us there is blessing in it.

“not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  (Heb. 10:25)

Emphasis: Strong and Fragrant like the Cedar

The psalmist also describes God’s People as the cedar; a tall, evergreen tree that produced a fragrant gummy sap. Its wood was strong and long lasting, so it had many uses, including furniture and ship masts. Due to its qualities, cedar wood was used in the construction of the temple.

We can joyfully embrace the power of God’s illustrated language. He describes our strength; and when we read what God has declared in His Word, we feel equipped to become more! To flourish like the palm tree or like the cedar built into a temple. We have the privilege of being used by our Father to help build His Church and establish His Kingdom. And to remain strong where He has placed us throughout our lives… flourishing!

“He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither and whatever he does shall prosper.”  (Psa. 1:3)

Offenses

Jesus said, “Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” (Mt. 18:7)

Three Realities About Offenses:

1. Offenses are Inevitable:

According to the dictionary, “woe” means, “grievous distress, affliction, or trouble”. Anyone who has been offended understands woe. And from my experience; I can tell you, it will not get easier with age! But as Jesus points out, offenses must come. People offend each other; by what they do and say - or don’t say, and most of the time they do not even realize it. Either way, life affords us daily opportunities to be offended. What surprises me is the reality Jesus points out, “offenses must come”.

To understand this we must first recognize what an offense is. The word “offense” actually comes from the same root word as the word “scandal”. A scandal is stirred up by the belief that some hidden motive is behind an unexplained event, and an offense is often the same thing. It requires us to believe or imagine something (that may or may not be true), simply based on a tone of voice or an attitude in someones actions. Note that while offenses may be inevitable, Jesus does not let the offender off the hook anymore than the offended. Both are accountable and will experience their own level of woe.

2. Offenses Reveal Issues:

This is a hard reality to embrace. Yet, in the midst of an offense, lays a bit of reality that might need attention. I find it difficult to believe any good could come from the feelings that emerge from being offended, but just like any painful feeling… there is a source, a hurt or some forgotten baggage. God might have a bigger purpose in mind. Consider the following two examples from the Bible, Joseph and David.

Consider how Joseph was ridiculed, kidnapped and sold into slavery by his own brothers. He was later falsely accused of trying to seduce the wife of a high-ranking, Egyptian official. He spent several years in prison and it was quite a while before he was vindicated. He could have been very angry with his brothers. Years later; when he is in a position of power and could easily have had his revenge, they are now face to face. Joseph had learned something and said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” (Gen. 50:19–20)

Consider King David, in the latter part of his life, was chased out of Jerusalem by his treasonous son, Absalom. If that weren’t bad enough, a character named Shimei meets him on the road and starts throwing rocks at him. He curses David and reminds him of all his sins. He says, “Come out! Come out! You bloodthirsty man, you rogue! The Lord has brought upon you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom your son. So now you are caught in your own evil, because you are a bloodthirsty man!” (2 Sam. 16:7-8). Abishai, one of King David’s servants, said, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please, let me go over and take off his head!” But David responded: “Let him alone, and let him curse… It may be that the Lord will look on my affliction, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day.” (2 Sam. 16:11-12).

It’s easy to resent those who offend us. But what if God has a deep and important purpose for sending them… something that He intends for our good, because He truly loves us (Rom. 8:28). The offense never feels good at the time, but God has a plan beyond the wound… beyond us and our feelings.

3. Staying Offended is a Choice:

Every leader should memorize this verse: “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.” (Prov. 19:11)

There are certainly times when it is legitimate to be angry. The Apostle Paul says, “Be angry, and do not sin” (Eph. 4:26). Anger can be a valid response to something that is wrong. But it can quickly become toxic; not only for those to whom we direct it, but also for ourselves. This is why the Apostle James admonishes us to be “slow to anger” (Jas. 1:19-20).

Between the offense and the response is the power of choice. This is what God put in us when He created us in His image, likeness and gave us dominion of the Garden of Eden. What makes us unique in the universe is our human will. We don’t have to respond; in fact, we do not even have to “hear” the offense - by choosing to ignore its invitation to let it stir our emotions. How many times have you ignored the phone when its a sales call or changed the tone of your voice in an instance depending upon who you are talking with. This is the reality of choice.

Choices are made by our ability to evaluate how our responses will benefit us at the moment. Those benefits are keys that unlock our understanding of authority and power. He who holds our heart, will rule our choices. The greatest leaders I know are not easily offended. Instead, they practice the habit of overlooking offenses.

Great leaders take the high road, give the offender the benefit of the doubt, and move on with the benefit of peace.

It requires character and a certain amount of skill in listening to what people say, rather than how they say it. I remind myself that offense will come, but I also recognize my choice is to find my identity in God’s pleasure rather than the approval of others or personal glory. I think that this is what the Apostle Paul meant by choosing rather to “glory in the cross” than look for personal justification (Gal. 6:14). A mutual crucifixion has occurred between myself and the world, I am dead to it and it is dead to me… which means I must not allow it to move me emotionally.

My freedom to reach God’s destiny is hinged to my ability to stay free from offenses!

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