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Make no provision

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I have recently been putting a Bible verse into practice – seeking to understand it and make it so real in my life that it would pop into my head every time I slip away from my resolution to make it real.  For Christians, this information is vital.  For non-Christians, I hope you won’t go away just because I mentioned the Bible.  The concept is still helpful — i.e. garbage in, garbage out.

The verse is Romans 13:14:  “But put ye on  the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”

Part one we will deal with in a future post; today I want to look at “make not provision for the flesh.”

The small decisions.

It is often the small decisions, the one’s that don’t really seem to matter that lead us down that road to full out surrender to sin.  If Satan were not subtle, we would run in the other direction.  He is very subtle and likes to masquerade as an ‘angel of light’.  In other words, he knows how to make the counterfit seem like the best thing.

A testimony

I hope this won’t run anyone off, but I want to share with you the story of a time when I went down a road I would have sworn I would never go down.  I won’t give all the details, so relax.  As a 17/18 yo, I had lost my grandmother and moved away from where I grew up.  I had always loved the Lord and sought to serve Him.  During this time, however, I struggled.  One night, I was supposed to go to a youth event at my church.  A boy I’d recently met asked me to go out with him that night.  Bad decision.  I continued to see this boy, even though I knew it wasn’t the right guy.  Bad decision.  One night he convinced me to go to a dance with him (I did not want to go) and told me he would not drink if I went, so I went.  Bad decision.  He drank.  In anger, I had a few drinks too.  Bad decision.  That night, my bad decisions came to fruition and I gave myself to this boy resulting in pregnancy.  Bad decision.

It may not seem that missing that one night could have led to this, and in such a short time, but it did.  The good news is that it woke me up.  I did, however, make another choice that probably wasn’t a good one.  I decided to marry the boy and try to cover up my sin.  Did I mention my dad was a pastor, and I had no idea how I was going to tell them what I’d done?  I made a few more bad decisions before it was over, but God had been there all the time and He used that bad to bring good into my life:  my son!  This is not something I am proud of, but it actually brought me to a point where I got real with God.  I understood finally what it meant to be forgiven because I knew what a sinner I was.

So what?

Since that time, I have certainly made more bad choices, but I have made every attempt to never stray so far from God again.  I ask Him to take ahold of my hand (like a toddler) and yank me back if I ever step one foot off the path.  So far, He has held on to me.  But, there have been sins that have beset me.  You know the small, Christian, overlooked sins.  All sins are sin and, while I have had a lot of victory, I still have areas where I am not fully free.

You too?

I also see this struggle in everyone around me.  I was taught that I should run from sin, but no one ever really taught me how to do that.  How do we do that?  By making no provision.

Making no what?

Making no provision (no plans to satisfy) for the flesh starts with those small decisions.  Suppose I am an alcoholic.  I become clean, repent, go to a 12 step group, etc., but I keep a cabinet full of liquor in my home “just in case”.  If we make the decisions to get rid of the stuff and stop going to places, hanging with people, or doing things that lead us to drink, we will be much more likely to abstain from the sin.

Suppose you are a teenager and you spend a lot of time alone with your girlfriend.  When you don’t make the decision to guard yourselves by not being alone, not putting yourself in a position to sin, you are much more likely to give in to the temptations.

Do you mean what I know?

I hope that is making sense, because it is a simple concept and yet it is a complex concept.  When I want to avoid a sin, especially the ones that are my particular achilles heel, I need to not only ‘make no provision’, I need to make provision for NOT doing it.  I change what I have to change to make sure I don’t put myself in a position where giving in is possible.

It starts where?

Making no provison starts in your mind.  Thoughts of the sin/temptation will flit into your head.  Yell STOP! and distract yourself by reading scripture, praying or just doing something else you enjoy or calling an accountability partner.  It is not sin to have thoughts flit through your head.  It is when you hang on to those thoughts, chew on them, meditate on them, that you convince yourself that you cannot resist the temptation and eventually, make provision to satisfy that desire.

What’s garbage in/garbage out got to do with it?

Do you have something you do that you would rather not do?  If we put things in our minds that feed this desire, we are more likely to give in.  We have to make a plan about what we will and will not allow into our minds.  Sin, or wrongs begin in our mind long before our body acts on it.

In what ways do you make provision for the flesh?

What things can you change so you do not make provision for the flesh?

As a New Year’s Resolution, what is one thing you can do to stop putting the garbage in?

Do you have an example of how making one change led to freedom?

No gifts will be returned in this house.

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Thanks to Derek Mansker for his post:   No gifts will be returned in this house..  He discusses why it’s important for his children (and others) to learn to be grateful for what they get instead of trading it in for money or something else they like better after Christmas is over.  Stop on over and read the rest.  Leave a comment if you like.

That’s nice, but I want. . . 

I appreciate Derek’s post very much because it is something I see so often in our world today.  The store is busier after Christmas than before.  Why? Because people are returning all those gifts they received for cash or in exchange for something else they wanted and didn’t get.

I have to get what I want

Why do people do this?  Do they not recognize that the giver thought long and hard about the gift before giving it?  So what if it isn’t exactly what you wanted? Why do we disrepect the giver by returning the gifts?

Why it matters

Every year, I usually fight depression as the Christmas season approaches.  There are several reasons for this, but one of them is fear that I won’t be able to buy the right gifts and make everyone happy.  This is my issue, for sure, but the issue has been fed by others who did not accept gifts graciously.  As a child, I often thought my parents would ‘know’ what I wanted.  They often didn’t, but I still appreciated the thought they put into their selections.  Another person in my life has a hard time receiving gifts from others.  This person likes to be the giver.  One year I spent quite a bit of time and money planning the perfect gift.  His reception was less than stellar, and I ended up in tears.  This person has since tried to undo what was done, but the damage was deep.

Returns tell the tale

Most people at least fake that they like the gift, but the number of returns after Christmas tells a tale.  Many of us have lists of what we’d like to have for gifts.  We don’t leave it up to chance because we want what we want.  How selfish and self-serving is that?  No wonder Christmas has become so commercial and often cold.

Rejecting the best gift

More than 2000 years ago, God gave mankind a gift in the form of a baby, our Savior, Christ the Lord.  That gift would stay on earth for 33 years, teaching and showing Himself as fully God and fully man.  Then, he gave the ultimate sacrifice:  His life.  He was crucified, and all our sin was laid on Him.  He rose from the dead to complete the gift:  salvation for anyone who would accept it.  This gift was given out of a love so deep we couldn’t possibly fathom it.  It was thought out, planned and executed with us in mind.  God knew we could not work out our own salvation, so He worked it out for us and handed it to us, anticipating our delight in accepting this best gift ever.

That’s nice, but I want. . .

And how many said, no thank you to this gift?  Some rejected it outright.  Others tried to say, I’ll take it, but I have to do something to get it.  But God knows exactly what it feels like to offer the perfect gift and have it thrown back at Him.

Have you rejected a gift by returning it for what you ‘really’ wanted?

Has someone else rejected a gift you gave and hurt your feelings?

How can we teach our children to appreciate the gifts they are given when we return our own gifts?

Do you feel that returning gifts is fine, or do you see it as a sign of ungratefulness in our society?

What about God’s gift?  Did you remember to honor the best Gift ever on Christmas Day, or did you snub your nose at Him and celebrate yourself or your family or something else in stead?

via No gifts will be returned in this house..

Communication Buster: It’s not about you

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"What about me?"

Guess What?  It’s Not About You

 

Continuing on a communication theme for the moment, let’s talk about something that blocks communication, regardless of the intent of the communicator.  This is something I have engaged in and seen quite a lot of, recently in the children and teens in my life.  This one thing is responsible for a lot of self-inflicted pain and bitterness.

 

What Is It?

 

We could call it covetousness or pride.  Either of those words works.  But this is how it works.  Mom tells daughter A, “Your hair looks wonderful today!”  Beautiful compliment, right?  Yes and nothing is wrong with that.  Mom and daughter A have no problem and go on about their business.  The problem starts in the heart of daughter B.  She hears the compliment, and her first thought is, “What about me?”

 

Daughter A heard, “Your hair looks nice.”  Daughter B heard, “Why doesn’t your hair look as nice as daughter A?” or “My mother must think my hair does not look wonderful.”  She has turned something that wasn’t about her at all into something that was all about her.

 

It’s Everywhere!

 

Similar scenarios play out all the time.  We tend to focus more on ourselves than others anyway, but when we make assumptions about communication that really has nothing to do with us, we plant a seed of bitterness and envy in our hearts.  If we continue to do this, it will grow until our bitterness colors our entire life.  We’ve all known people who just feel sorry for themselves all the time.  This happens because of what they tell themselves about the events in their lives. This particular communication blocker tends to color everything in the heart and mind of the one who does it.

 

Does He Love Me?

 

On a personal note, I used to do this a lot.  I think it’s part of that “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;” (Proverbs 22:15) and starts early.  [Part of a parent’s job is to confront the lies children believe with the truth].  One pain I brought on myself for many years involved my Grandfather.  For his entire life, I thought he favored my sister.  Maybe he did, but the reason I thought so was a lie straight from hell and common to mankind.

 

I was one of those ‘hide in the corner,’ bashful kids.  My sister was not.  She was engaging and knew how to get away with murder by being ‘cute’ in her orneriness.  That set the stage.  In later years, every time I visited my Grandfather, the topic of conversation was the sister.  It hurt.  What I heard was “Linda, Linda, Linda.”  I gave myself unnecessary pain for so long because of this.

 

Then, toward the end of my Grandfather’s life, I realized something:  It wasn’t about me!  Guess what?  I was the one who visited; my sister was not.  So of course you’re going to talk about the one you don’t see, it’s only natural.  I’m there; he doesn’t need to talk about me!  This was the beginning of God shining the light of truth into the darkness of the lies I believed.  Once you begin to see how you’ve done this, you will be amazed at how often you do it.

 

Over-aware Of Me?

 

A while back, I overheard some teens talking.  One was complaining that her brother ‘gets everything.’  Sadly, I see the hurt in her eyes and how it’s affecting her.  What she is not seeing is that she is several years younger than the brother (about 4).  If you’re going to compare, you have to compare apples to apples.  A 16 year old and a 12 year old are not comparable.  The older one gets to do things first.  If the 12 year old becomes 16 and realizes she’s not getting the same things as her brother did, then she might have something to worry about.

 

It’s Not About You!

 

I see this all the time and have to watch it closely in my own life.

 

The lie:  It’s all about me.

The truth:  Most of the time IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!

 

What to do?

 

Our perceptions color everything.  Changing our thoughts involves introspection and awareness.  When you catch yourself assuming or making a statement about you that’s not about you at all, STOP!  Sometimes this writer even says STOP! out loud.  The thought train is heading in one direction, and you must stop it and turn it around to change things.  Give it a try; you’ll be surprised how much happier you are when you don’t get sucked into this communication blocker.

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