Tuesday, July 5, 2011

John 14:25-27

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Remember years ago a bumper sticker that said, “God is my co-pilot”? That has always irritated me. If God is the co-pilot that means that I am the pilot and I am in charge. That is heresy for a Christian!

As a new believer I believed a similar heresy about the Holy Spirit. I pictured Him as nothing more than my advisor. He was there to give me, well, advice. I did not see the Holy Spirit as Authority. Reality is that the Holy Spirit is Almighty God living in me. He does not just help me do what I want to do. He does not just give me advice that I can take or leave. He accomplishes God’s work of sanctification in me. I am supposed to follow Him, follow His lead and His guidance, and submit to His authority. He actually accomplishes God’s Will in my life, He doesn’t just assist me here and there.

In a very real sense the Holy Spirit is God’s spokesman in me, just as Christ was God’s spokesman to the world while he lived on this earth.

Father God, thank you for Your Word. Holy Spirit, thank you for Your Presence. Help me always submit to Your Authority in my life. Finish Your work of sanctification in me. Amen.

©Rebecca A Givens, 07/05/11

Monday, July 4, 2011

I Peter 3:1-8

1 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble

Every time I read this passage one word jumps out at me. Well ok, submit jumps out too, but the word I am talking about at the moment is “fear”. Is it really fear that prevents me from submitting? That’s what this seems to say. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

What is fearful about submitting and obeying and putting yourself under your husband? As I think about it, pretty much everything. Fear of not being in control. Fear of the future. Where will he take me? Even my own rebellious attitude of “I want to make my own decisions and choices and control my own life!” really boils down to will this man do the right thing?

So, what is the antidote to this fear? I think it is in the previous sentence. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. The antidote to fear is hope, here used more as trust. Fortunately the key is not trust in a fallible, human husband, although a man who has proven himself trustworthy certainly makes this job easier. My own natural reaction of taking control myself is just plain foolishness. Do I really trust myself to have the answers and to do the right thing? No, the key is putting my trust and my hope in God. My trust in myself is foolish. My hope in my husband is a human hope that is more of a wish. My hope in God is hope as a certainty, a sure thing. So I trust God to lead my husband. And then I trust my husband to lead me.

Trusting God to lead my husband, rather than taking matters into my own hands, is one of the hardest things God asks me to do. It is a battle that I fight every single day. Recognizing that fear is at the root of my rebellion toward God and my husband changes the problem. If it was just rebellion then more self-control would be all I needed. But it’s not. It is fear. And while self-control does help me face fear, it doesn’t make me feel ok about it. Trust and Hope in God can actually replace the fear and anxiety with peace and joy. Only God can do that.

©Rebecca A Givens, 07/04/11

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Mark 14:32-36

32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba,[
a] Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

I have never felt the depth of agony that Jesus did on this night. How often have I prayed that God would take my own trouble and grief and hardship from me? Yet in my selfishness I have not wanted His will. Jesus knew God’s will included the bitter cup that was coming. He allowed himself to express his grief to God, then he accepted the cup. He drank even the dregs of the cup that God gave him, the cup of God’s wrath. May we never tack on the phrase of accepting God’s will just to give God an out from answering our prayers, but truly accept His will over our own comfort and desires.

Lord, give me the grace to accept the sorrow and pain and trouble that You have ordained for me.
Give me the strength to endure whatever comes.
Give me the integrity to stand firm, whatever the opposition may be.
Give me the humility to yield to Your plan.
Give me the patience and the hope to endure till the end.
Glorify Yourself in me.

©Rebecca A Givens, 07/02/11