Self-control – In me I trust

It is about 2 am in the wee hours of the morning. I finally finished reading the first five books of the Bible and what a revelation it was. I think the most resounding revelation, for me, was that the God of the Old Testament, the God that is criticized for initiating so much violence against humanity is the same God that gave His only Son as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind, His creation. God in all His glory took responsibility for His creation.  He gave us the first look at the fierceness and compassion capable in parenting. Yes, to God be the glory.

As sinful creatures we have an innate desire to be in control, to provide for our own needs through our own abilities. Blind trust is difficult, especially when trusting in God whom we cannot see, feel, or touch. Jesus came to do the will of the Father. He was obedient to the cross. Self-control was never an issue, because all He considered was the will of the Father.

Our first challenge as believers is giving up our need for control. The flesh wants it, if not demands it. Others alike expect you to take control of your life, your desires, if not to embrace your desires, and your walk with God. We believe there is always a degree of control that we must have, but I don’t think that’s how God meant it. He told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of good and evil, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” this implies obedience, not self-control. For every action there is a consequence. God was always testing His people to see if they would obey Him. We obey His commands out of fear and reverence, respect and yes even habit.

This is what the Lord shared with me, so when I finished writing everything down I went back to bed.

In the morning I awoke and the message continued.

As infants and children we learn self-control. As newly born humans, it’s the flesh that drives our behavior until we learn obedience.

An infant that cries for food, for a diaper change, or feels ill and wants attention the babe knows no other way of communicating other than crying, this is the flesh demanding. When a baby takes its first step, it opens up a whole new world, and he wants to go everywhere. He takes a few steps here and there. He has no concept of danger. His little body wants to go. He fights any restraint. It is up to the parent to put up safety guards and establish limits to keep him mobile, yet safe.

A toddler has the worst of times because all he wants is his way. You hear people refer to these behaviors as the terrible two’s, but the child is learning obedience, patience, sharing, etc.. As we grow, we learn to bring the flesh under submission, we come to expect certain things, so the flesh learns not to be so demanding. The flesh no longer dictates because it knows that certain things will take place that satisfy its needs. The need for sustenance is a great example. we know that mom will fix breakfast, lunch and dinner.  As the flesh hungers, what we learn is patience, to wait. When we lack self-control we gorge ourselves while waiting for dinner, and then eat a complete meal.

Self-control we learn as children. Self-control is about behavior and when we have the mind of Christ, the mind of Christ only wants to do the will of the Father. Having the mind of Christ allows God to always be in control.

Self-control is carnal mindedness. It has to do with the self, I, me, my, the flesh, it’s desires, it is never satisfied.  From an early age, if basic needs are not met, if limitations are not set, the child never learns self-control. The flesh then goes into overdrive to satisfy its desires.

The mind of Christ is focused on the things of God. The flesh is put to death. We are to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. We are to give the devil no ground. Surrender is not easy.

Part 1: Ground Zero: The Mind

Last Sunday, at church, I heard a message that compelled me to share something the Lord has been showing me. Some people will not understand the message, others will not agree and others will judge, but read it, glean what you can and toss the rest out. Hopefully, you will take away something the Lord has been putting in your heart. The message is about the spiritual battle for the mind, aptly titled Ground Zero: The Mind. This message is in five parts.

What is Ground Zero?  Our mind, the battlefield where we, as Christians, combat against every evil thought that seeks to destroy our faith in the only true and living God.  Fighting of evil thoughts is easy for most people, because most people consider only the most horrendous, unforgivable evils against humanity, and truth be told no one would admit to entertaining such thoughts, even in jest.  We consider those evils that society has deemed reprehensible such as murder, stealing, adultery and other such crimes against humanity.  However, as our unbelieving counterparts, most Christians give little thought to the “innocent sin” like a haughty spirit, or a gossipy tongue, or selfishness.  These sins are written off to personality, or character traits.  Nevertheless, the battle waged against us begins in the mind; it is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces in the dark recesses of our mind, whose only mission is to destroy our witness for Jesus Christ.  The Word clearly states that if you hold hatred for your brother, you had better go make it right, because God makes no distinction when it comes to sin.  I John 3: 15, says, “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him”.  It is time for believers to wake up and stand against the evil coming against the children of God.  Take heed.  The “unforgivable” and the subtle evils that encompass the content of our character is nothing more than firepower for the weapons of the enemy.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

The days of judging people by the color of their skin is behind us, or at least that’s what most Americans are content to believe. However, the day where all Americans will be judged by the content of their character is a day that is quickly nearing. Unprepared, it will be more than we bargained for. I find it interesting, yet doubt that Martin Luther King, Jr., ever realized the prophetic message in his “I Have a Dream” speech. I doubt anyone in secular circles much less Christian circles has given the phrase any thought. As Christians, however, what is the content of our character? What does that mean? What will it mean for Christians, a.k.a. Jesus followers to be judged by the content of their character? I have to admit I have met all kind of Christians and the only common factor is their belief in God and Jesus Christ. This I surmised by their presence in church, and their participation in the various church activities. Compassion, love for mankind, generous, self-sacrificing, selfless,  humility, faithful, kind, altruistic, even honesty and integrity, these attributes are not common to all Christians.

Defining Character

Webster’s dictionary defines character, as moral excellence, and firmness, as in a man of sound character, or a person marked by notable or conspicuous traits. An acceptable definition for “content of your character” is living by a consistent set of values, revealing a personal integrity, sometimes referred to as an inner compass.

These are some examples of the sort of behaviors that reveal the content of your character:

  • Courage to do the right thing in the face of opposition whether, physical courage, intellectual courage, or moral courage
  • Admitting mistakes
  • Respect and consideration for others
  • Honoring commitments
  • Caring for family and friends
  • Faithful
  • Honesty and sincerity
  • Plays by the rules
  • Has a desire to serve
  • A good work ethic

How many people do you know that possess all these qualities? Are there other qualities that are more important to you?

Stay tuned…Cont. on next post.

Finding Faith in a faithless society

Recently, I was sharing a conversation with a woman who had found her lost faith in Christ. She was in the process of looking for a church home, but since she had yet to find one she felt strongly lead to attend, she was reading her bible daily and faithfully, and daily she said, the Lord was showing her many wonderous things. The conversation went on, but I could not help but be encouraged by her enthusiasm and eagerness to search the scriptures, to learn all she could about Jesus and to learn to recognize the voice of God. It was just her and God.  It was a breath of fresh air in today’s megachurch mentality. 

Megachurches have become nothing less than feelgood places. Positive thinkers in a negative world, forever preaching the word of God, but never grasping the life changing power of His majesty.

Matthew 9:36 Jesus was moved by compassion
Matthew 9: 2 Jesus saw their faith
Mathew 4 Jesus knew their thoughts

Christians are supposed to love others as themselves. However, harshly judged, but correctly judged Christians can be greedy, lack compassion, selfish, complacent, judgmental, lack self control, and self examination. So where is the body of Christ?