Friday, May 28, 2010

Lily Among Thorns - Part 2

Okay, so now we know what a Lily looks like, and we know that is what we want, but HOW DO WE GET THERE FROM WHERE WE ARE??? Of course, God is the One who does the work in us and we wouldn't even be wanting to be closer to Him unless He had called us (1 John 4:19), but so often we feel the fire of passion for God growing in our spirit and we just don't know what to do with it. Thankfully, God has given us very clear instructions in the Bible about what He wants us to do when we feel Him calling us to a more fulfilled and God-centered life than we now have.
(Note: See the end of the post for some recommended tools in starting out on this new phase of your life.)
So what are we supposed to do after we have 'accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior'?

1."Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
"Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass. And He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light and thy judgment as the noonday." Psalm 37:5-6 (Go and read all of Psalm 37, it's really amazing!)
Okay, so, how are we supposed to commit our way unto the Lord? PRAY!!!
As you start out on this brand new phase of your life, go into a quiet room all by yourself (the bathroom works good for this if you honestly can't find anywhere else), get down on your knees (yes, I'm serious), and pray out loud to the God of the Universe who is calling to your heart (if you pray quietly or in a whisper, that's okay too, but it is important that you say the words with your mouth as well as your heart).
Commit your life, job, relationships, health, anger, fear, talents, everything to your Father, and ask Him to direct your paths and to show you what to do next.
Ask Him to show you what is in your life that is tying you to this world, is an idol to you or is standing between you and Him.

2. "
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." Galations 6:7-8
As you begin to do this, God will show you what is that you are idolizing. What it is that you are escaping to when you should be going to Him. (Escaping might sound something like this: "Oh man, I'm so stressed out! I just need to shut my mind off for a little while. I think I'll go watch a movie... go on facebook... vent on my blog... listen to music... go shopping... have some chocolate...")
One good way to evaluate whether or not something is an idol is to ask yourself whether or not you could live without it. (I believe that Leslie Ludy has a whole section on this in her book "Set Apart Femininity" that was very helpful to me. I wish that I could quote her, but I don't have the book at the moment.)

3. "
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish." Galations 5:16-17
(It goes on to list what the works of the flesh are... very interesting. If you have a moment, make sure to go read Galations 5:13-26)
As God shows you what you are replacing Him with, GET RID OF IT!!! Let nothing stand against your pursuit of Him! And please realize that He might not be calling you to never ever have another piece of chocolate again, but perhaps if you go on a fast from it, you might have an easier time "sowing to the spirit and not the flesh".

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints..." Ephesians 6:18
Take the time that is freed up by getting rid of your 'escape', and use it to read the Bible and pray. Make sure not to fill it up with something else. If you get stop watching movies but take that time to listen to music (yes, even Christian music), than you are missing the point. The whole point of any kind of fast in this context (whether of entertainment, food, or anything), is to deny the flesh and to free up more time to spend with God and find out what He is calling you to.
I'll give you a very quick example out of my own life. My parents go for a walk every evening and it takes them about 30-45 minutes. Now by this time my chores are all done and I am free to do whatever I want (within reason of course) ;-). This is a perfect opportunity to spend time in prayer. (Besides, I found that when I had a time limit like that, it made it so that I was not constantly looking at the clock or trying to 'hurry up and get it over with'.)
This is an exercise of your will and your spirit, and if you are not used to it this can be tiring, but it will be very rewarding if you use the time to pray according to God's will.

(One quick note on prayer: if you run out of things to pray for, try opening the Bible to a Scripture, say Ephesians 6:10-18 or Psalm 37, and praying through it. - ie "Dear Father, help me not to fret myself because of evildoers, and not to be envious against the workers of iniquity... Rather work in my heart that I may trust in You, and give me wisdom and strength from You to do good. Help me to delight myself in You, and let the desire of my heart be to be a good and faithful servant to You. Lord, I do commit my way unto you, and do choose to trust in you, please give me righteousness that shines like the light
Also, consider this quote: "There is a general kind of praying which fails for lack of precision. It is as if a regiment of soldiers should all fire off their guns anywhere. Possibly somebody would be killed, but the majority of the enemy would be missed." - Charles Spurgeon, The Metroplitan Tabernacle Pulpit)

5. "
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled." 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
As God shows you the strongholds in your life, go ahead and use the mighty weapons that He has given you (Ephesians 6:10-18) to pull down the strongholds, cast down the imaginations of your heart (for some young ladies sensual imaginings is a huge stumbling block) etc.

6. "Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”" 1 Peter 1:13-16
Continue to fight against the idols in your life by refreshing yourself through prayer.
Also see "The Physical Side of Mental Purity" "Compromises" "Crushes on Unavailable Men" "PTGW Part 8: Taking Care of Your Soul" "Questions About Crushes, Attention, and Other Stuff!" "A Joyful, Thankful Heart" and "Tips for Mental Purity" for some more in depth practical suggestions about some of the more common strongholds and stumbling blocks for young ladies.

7. "Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these.”" Mark 12:29-31
Pray, pray, pray! Pray without ceasing! Pray for the strength of God in this time of growing in your life! Pray that He would make you into a woman after His own Heart! Pray specifically for the godly qualities you are lacking! You are going to need His help, for "...Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”" Matthew 19:26b

And now for the recommended tools that I promised!

1. "The Steps to Freedom" by Neil Anderson - this is a great tool for the start of your journey and can help you to identify the strongholds in your life and cast them down. I would highly recommend this to EVERYONE!!! (Don't get turned off by how small it is, it is a powerful tool because it uses the Truth of God's Word to identify and cast down strongholds.) Highly Recommended

2. "Praying God's Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds" by Beth Moore - this is an excellent place to start praying God's word, and gives a little more concentrated help on the areas of weakness in your life. Recommended

3. "Get Out of That Pit: A 40-Day Devotional Journal" by Beth Moore - I have never read the original book, but this journal is very helpful for those struggling with depression. Recommended

4. "Set Apart Femininity" by Leslie Ludy - This book is one of the main ways that God called me to more than the mediocre Christianity I was living. Highly Recommended

5. "Wrestling Prayer" by Eric and Leslie Ludy - If you are looking for a step by step guide to becoming more than a mediocre Christian, this is an amazing and very challenging book to grow you in your faith and service to the Lord! Highly Recommended

6. "The Bible" the supernaturally inspired and perfect Word of God. Highly Highly Highly HIGHLY Recommended!!!!

And just one last word of encouragement...
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." Luke 11:9-10

(These verses in this post are just meant to get you started, please go ahead and read the full chapters and books that I have quoted from here and continue to seek God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. As usual, if you have any questions, or if you come across any other verses that you think would enhance this post, or would be a blessing to those reading it, please leave a comment.)


Kerrin Koetsier said...

Hey there... I just came across your blog, and have been reading a couple of your posts. Just wanted to say that you've encouraged me today - thanks for taking the time to write!

Kerrin Koetsier

Joy said...

Hi Kerrin!

Thank you for reading and for your comment! :-) I'm very glad that my posts encouraged you! :-)

God bless!

Anonymous said...

I think it is great for all those who encourage young women to live godly lives. Aged women are to be grave, sober, able to teach young women to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, obedient to their own husbands. The bible tells us to train up our children in the way they should go and in the end, they will not depart from it. May God bless all who share the word of God in spirit and in truth. Bible study is important for us all. We must study to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth, according to the scripture. May God bless all who share the word of God in spirit and in truth.

LaSara said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sarah said...

Thank you so much for this practical, yet spiritually in-tune post. I really enjoyed your comments on prayer as I just wrote a post for my blog on prayer. God's timing is perfect!

Hank Coran said...

Hi Ms. Joy,

I am was googling a certain topic and happened upon your blog. I love the idea and purpose of it, and was wondering if you knew of any for Christian young men? I have tried googling that also but I came up empty-handed. Thanks for any info.


Anonymous said...

Good afternoon!
Your Blog is a breath of fresh air! I really enjoy you posts, and will be checking back often :)

Hank Coran said...

Thank you Ms. Joy,

I was never notified of your comment on my blog or I would have written back sooner. :)

I got your information and am going to explore it when I have a block of free time, Finals and all *phew*!

Have a great day.

Merry Christmas,

P.S. No, you were not out of turn, its hard to offend me. :)

Anonymous said...

Hello Joy,
I really love what you are doing! God has given you this unique wisdom and teaching capability that is truly a gift from God!
Okay, I need you're feed back on this...I like this guy in church and I know that crushes are good but I did not want it go out of proportion and snowball into lust. Unfortunately, I crossed the borders of mental purity and told my pastor's wife about this- a godly figure that I can be accountable to. She told me that crushes are normal and its nothing wrong but she also told me not to awaken love before its time. I SO KNOW WHAT SHE SAID IS TRUE and I armed myself with scriptures like 2nd Corinthians 10:5. But I still find myself toiling to not think of him :S
I want a break through and enjoy my solitude in Christ(20 year old college student living by herself :) ).

Please guide me here, Joy.

Marianne Njiraini said...

hi Joy,
i just want to thank u for letting God use u. i have been encouraged SO much by your post. thank u!
continue to let ure light shine, the world needs it. thank u.