Dogs can be our best friend and even feel like part of our family. They live with us and we take care of them. We let them go for rides in the car, just to be with us, and take them for walks or the park. In my case, I take my dog, Annie, for walks in the woods or to do chores around the farm. Her instinct is to be a dog. She herds the cattle, whether they need it or not. She chases the deer and turkeys that come close to the house. And she like smells.
While outdoors, she searches out every new or intriguing smell she can find. She isn’t happy to just leave the smell where it is found. No, she wants to smell the same way and bring her prized odor home. That is just what she did the other day. Annie may have been proud of herself but I wasn’t. She went straight to the bathtub, which made her very unhappy. She may have been doing what dogs naturally do, but if she wanted to live in my house with me she needed cleansing.
This may be the way God sees us; His cherished, adopted children. He loves us and wants us with Him. However, we can’t hang onto the habits which He cannot allow in His house. Much like Ephesians 4:22-24: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires (instinct*); to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” NIV
God accepts us the way we are, no matter how dirty or smelly. He guides us to clean up our lives as we grow closer to Him. When we fall back into old ways, we need to seek forgiveness. Annie didn’t like her bath, but it is what she needed to get what she wanted; to eat and sleep in the house. Sometimes God allows things we don’t like in order for us to end up with what is best for us. He has our best interest in mind which is often different that our own desires. Changing our habits may be as hard as Annie changing hers, but with God’s help we can do it.
What habits or desires do you have that get in your way of living the way God wants you to? How have you learned to deal with those natural instincts?
Photography is a hobby that my husband, Jon, and I enjoy. He has a camera where he can choose all the settings for each frame. I point and shoot. He takes time to look at the lighting, focus and angle, and calculates what his finished photo will look like. I say, “That looks pretty good,” and then click.
Automatic is easier and sometimes I get just as dramatic a result as Jon does. But automatic isn’t always the best choice, especially when it comes to what we are focusing our minds on. Allowing our human nature to run autofocus through our thoughts can end with an unclear scene. If someone hurts our feelings, our mind will zoom in on the raw emotions as the focal point. When our feelings come into focus, the feelings of those around us may become blurred. We wouldn’t know that if we are centering the whole scene only around ourselves.
Some pictures may be attractive with only one image, but more often that image can be enhanced by including something to compare or contrast it to. Focusing our thoughts from only one angle never gives us a clear image of the bigger picture. When we zoom our attention out to include others in the frame, we may have to change some of the settings to assure each of us are in focus. It may take some thought and planning.
Don’t let your thoughts be point and shoot. Take the time to set your mind with God’s word. Adjust your thinking with compassion and forgiveness. Then watch the lighting change to where you can see everything clearer.
Have you ever focused on your own hurt, then found out that you were the one who misunderstood the situation? How did you refocus your frame of mind?
John the Baptist was asked, “Who are you? What do you say about yourself?” (John 1:22) He was preaching of the coming of the Messiah and baptizing those who repented. He was also living in the wilderness, eating honey and locust and wearing goatskins. He may have appeared to people then as a homeless person would to us today. That didn’t bother him.
What do you say about yourself? I have a new grandson that fills my heart with love so my response is, “I’m a grandmother!” People I talk to soon learn about Liam and often are subjected to pictures. But I am more than a grandmother; I am a mother, wife, sister, friend, church member, writer, volunteer and the list goes on. Or I could physically describe myself, as I use to do; I am fat and ugly with dark circles under my eyes and unruly curly hair.
Whether you talk about yourself from a physical, genealogy or educational point of view, what you say is important. Is it positive or negative? I no longer use degrading words to describe myself or anyone else. When John was asked who he was, he went to scripture to find the answer. “I am the voice of one calling in the desert. Make straight the way for the Lord.” (Isaiah 40:3) We can also find the answer in scripture.
We can say, I am:
Fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14);
Made and formed with God’s hands (Psalm 119:73);
Loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3);
Never separated from God’s love (Romans 8:35-39)
Redeemed and forgiven (Colossians 1:14)
Shown mercy (Nehemiah 9:17)
Promised a future (Jeremiah 29:11)
There are many more scriptures that show us how God sees us through His everlasting love. John was testifying of One that would come after him; we can testify to the One who is with us now.
What do you say about yourself?
In the last weeks, I have talked about three of the riches we receive when we inherit the Kingdom of God by believing in Christ Jesus. The first one was hope. We have an expectation that God will fulfill our desires when we place our trust in Him. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19 NIV) I like this analogy of our hope holding us in place so that we are not tossed into danger but is keeping us solid in rough times.
Forgiveness was the second riches I mentioned. “If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared.” (Psalm 130:3-4 NIV) I think of fear as awe or honor. God tears up any evidence of our sins; He deserves our highest respect.
Joy was the next treasure. It is one of the fruits of the Spirit that become ours when we choose to follow God. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) All are available to us as part of our inheritance. When we allow the Holy Spirit to work through us, they are within our reach.
We don’t have to wait until we reach heaven to enjoy the inheritance that is ours. God has provided many good things for us to experience while we are alive. Claiming our inheritance doesn’t mean we will never see hard times. It means we have the tools available to help us navigate the challenges. And we are never alone. The Holy Spirit is in us and should be the one at the helm, directing our position.
Are you claiming the riches that your position as an heir gives you?