Usually I'm sharing the things that the Lord teaches me fairly anonymously behind a keyboard. But, a few weekends ago at our church's women's conference I had the very real privilege of speaking. The topic was on our relationships; my talks focused on relating with Jesus and with others. As I prepared for the conference, God taught me much about my relationship with Him and how that impacted my relationship with others. Since the conference has been over, He hasn't let me go. He knows me and He knows my temptations and sins so He continues teaching me and strengthening me to obey Him in my relationships. Since those lessons are on my mind, I'll share them here on the blog. Maybe you need them too?
This verse begins a rich chapter that addresses practical living in Jesus. Saying I'm a Believer in Him isn't enough; my life must show evidence of it or else it's just my lipservice. When the Holy Spirit changes my dead heart and makes me into a new creation (being raised in Christ), there is something we must do next:
Seek Those Things
Think back to when you were a kid. Playing Hide and Seek was the old stand-by game whenever we'd be with friends. If you were chosen to hide, you'd run fast and then sit...for awhile...maybe so long you'd wonder if you'd be stuck there forever?! Hiding was more passive in this particular game, but seeking was the active part. Just as it was active when you were chosen to play seeker then, it is active now. The Word instructs us to seek those things which are above, in heaven. This will take effort because we aren't in heaven and don't have that kind of eternal mindset. We know earth, we know temporary and the material world. Heavenly? Eternal? Harder to imagine, yet we aren't left without instruction or help. As we go to God in His word, He will show us what is important and what we don't need to focus on.
- Worrying about tomorrow? Don't do it. (Matthew 6:25-34)
- Should I forgive that person or hang onto the grudge? Forgive. A bunch. (Matthew 18:21-35)
- Fret and fear about my current situation? Um, no. (Aside from the hundreds of "Do not fear" passages in Scripture, remember the amazing truths of Ephesians 3:20-21 and Matthew 19:26)
As we seek things which are eternal or heavenly, we will see a shift in our day-to-day thinking and responses. We'll shift from here-and-now to much longer-term. We'll shift from being controlled by emotions to being controlled by the Spirit. We'll shift from hopelessness to great hope.
The Long View
This isn't the first time I've written about this topic and it may not be the last...God seems to need to repeat Himself with me a lot. If you struggle with keeping a long-term view when you're struggling with something, especially a relationship, then maybe you'll appreciate this repeat. If you don't struggle with this, then I'll need to address my envying you next...
How often do you find your response being more in the 'heat of the moment' than calm and focused on honoring God? Your husband does something that hurts you--is your response kind and thoughtful or do your emotions rise up? Having a long view of things will be a helpful practice as we fight our sin. Our relationships will be more blessed.
Lately I've found myself prone to having small emotional explosions before seeking Christ. My focus has been too up-close-and-personal than long range. It's been too Wendy and not enough Jesus. If you struggle with this (and examine your thoughts before you say you don't struggle...your explosions may be more internal or quiet) then listen, because Jesus has raised us from our 'old man' and there is hope for change!
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing. John 15:5
Isn't it glorious that Jesus is our power for change? I can keep trying and trying to stop having emotional explosions, but if I'm not connected to my Power Source, then I can do nothing about it.
As I seek Him, then He will remind me of what is important, where my strength comes from, and how to best respond in a way that honors Him. He will do this work in me! In you!