I’m not a Bible scholar, and I’ve never had any formal theological teaching – so just take this for what it’s worth. The morning musings of a 58-year old Christ follower.
“Therefore, submit to God.”
You know those days when you’re reading your Bible, and one verse (or segment of verses) reminds you of another verse in some other chapter or Book of the Bible? I love those days!!! They bring to mind imagery of what it might be like if Jesus Christ were sitting across from me at the dining table, chatting about the impeccable congruencies of His word. Well, this morning I had one of those experiences and so off I ventured into James 4, and having satisfied my curiosity with verse 6, I continued to read a few other verses I’ve underlined and commented on during previous studies.
“Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
James 4:7-8, 10 (NKJV)
And here’s what stands out to me (or what stands out to me this morning):
Submit to God >>>>
Draw near to God >>>>
Humble yourself before God
In todays society, submission is often seen as a ‘dirty word’. Is it???
Merriam-Webster defines submit as:
to yield to governance or authority
to subject to a condition, treatment, operation
to present or propose to another for review/consideration
to put forward as an opinion
And I wonder if perhaps submitting to God could be as simple as drawing near to God. I mean, if I draw near to God: as in spend time with Him, listen to Him, talk with Him, do things together with Him, perhaps even “affectionately scooch on over closer” just to be near Him …. well, wont I naturally find myself wanting to:
…. yield to His authority?
…. offer Him my concerns?
…. dialog and discuss with Him?
Maybe submitting is a lot easier than we think it is. Maybe submitting is just the result of drawing near to God, taking in allof who He is, and then responding to it.
And as a reward for doing that … the enemy of my soul will flee!!! Scram! Stay far out of range! Why? Because I’m nestled up under the covering of my God, and their ain’t no devil in hell that wants to get within range of God’s jealous wrath for His beloved!!!!
And who , pray tell, is His beloved???Well my friend, that’s you and me!! ❤
Hmm…. sounds like there are some excellent perks for practicing submitting to God today. I hope you join me in the practicing.
We have never met (true for about 99.9% of my readers), but we are the same in a lot of ways. You feel a stir in your spirit, or perhaps you receive a promise through the Word of God, and you set out on an adventure of faith with great hope and expectation for the “new and good thing” that you are expecting to happen as a result of this prompting or promise.
“Let us go across
to the other side of the lake.”
But time drags on.
Discouragement begins to weigh on your shoulders.
Weariness begin to eat away at hope….
and you begin to fear.
One day Jesus got into a boat with his disciples and said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they started out. As they were sailing, Jesus fell asleep. Suddenly a strong wind blew down on the lake, and the boat began to fill with water, so that they were all in great danger. The disciples went to Jesus and woke him up, saying, “Master, Master! We are about to die!” Luke 8:22-24 (GNB)
I’ve set out on many such journeys of faith over the years, and am still on many of them.
I am still waiting for the long awaited and much anticipated answers to many prayers.
I bet you are too.
And sometimes you probably feel like I do … like you’re sitting out in the middle of a big lake, at dusk, being battered by waves of fear and doubt, with the shoreline so far away you can’t even see it.
But here is what the Holy Spirit speaks to me through these few verses of Luke 8.
If Jesus is in the boat with me (with you), we WILL get to the other side … just as He said!!
Friend, if Jesus says we are going to the other side, we are going to the other side! Maybe not as fast as I would like, and maybe we will encounter some turbulence along the way … but we are getting there! He will make sure of it, even if He has to pick me up and carry me on His shoulders while He walks across the water to bring me to shore!!
Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man that he should lie…”
I hope that brings comfort to your spirit as you meditate on this simple truth. He is in the boat with you. He will get you to shore, just as He promised.
I didn’t post last week. Instead, I celebrated Thanksgiving with family and friends. I hope you did the same!
In my last post, I was telling the story of when I heard God “clear His throat”, calling me on the carpet for my attitude. I had been moaning and groaning and complaining … having a very un-Christlike attitude towards my coworkers and managers. (If any of you are reading this, it’s an ugly confession that I’m not proud of, but you know it to be true regardless if admitted or not).
“You are not living up to your name”, He said.
It was sobering moment, like having the mirror turned towards me so that I could see my own reflection … and I did not like what I saw!
“The mouth speaks out of the overflow of the heart.” Luke 6:45
Instead of speaking out hope for the goodness of God to be seen in my life (in spite of temporary negative circumstances), I was speaking out words of failure and oppression and mean-spiritedness of the overflow of negativity that I had stored up in my heart as a result of being uncomfortable and frustrated by circumstances and the behavior of others.
So after apologizing to God (for being such a lousy representative of His character in the workplace), I committed to doing some repair work on my heart … because if my heart (mind and spirit) weren’t filled to the point of overflowing with the live-giving promises of God that are well able to turn around any situation I might ever face in life, then there was absolutely no hope of my ever speaking anything but fear and death and failure over my life. And I’d already experienced enough of that!
It didn’t happen overnight, but God is so kind!! He will always make Himself easily found to those who sincerely seek Him. He graciously met me where I was, and as I fed myself on Scripture and scripture-based teachings to encourage my faith, not only did my attitude elevate but my circumstances began to change. And not in the way you might expect.
My Pastor had recently preached a message and in it asked “What gets you up in the morning? What keeps you up at night?” He encouraged us that the answers to these questions would help provide insight into the way God had wired us individually to serve God and serve others, and were often were indicators for the profession God had uniquely equipped us for.
I’d long been dreaming about becoming self-employed, so I prayerfully tried to answer those questions with hopes God would reveal a new career path for me. Knowing that I’m hard-wired to help other people, at first I thought to try offering coaching services for professional development on LinkedIn. I led a few workshops within my church, and started envisioning how I might transition that into a part time career.
In the meantime, pressure in the workplace was mounting – and it was evident that something had to give. I had been looking, and had a few positive interviews under my belt – but I was still waiting for a formal job offer.
Then came a women’s weekend event at my church, and my prayer and expectation was that God would give me instruction during the event on what to do. Do I stay (and risk being pushed out of the organization), or do I leave (even before I secured a new job). And in ways that only God can do, He spoke to me through multiple means that weekend (through whispers of the Spirit during worship, through conversations with women during the event, and from the podium from the guest speaker) and I was absolutely confident that He was inviting me to quit my job and take a leap of faith out into the deep waters of the unknown and trust Him to make the way for me.
So I did! The next Monday, I went in and gave my two weeks notice!
“What you ‘SEE’ is where you will go; change your vision, change your life!” ~Bill Winston
And He did! Before the two weeks had run out, He whispered to me to call one of my old managers and ask about representation. Honestly, I really didn’t understand the implications of that at the time … I was simply responding to an inner prompting by the Holy Spirit. I made the call, and within just a few days I had a verbal agreement to become an Independent Sales Rep for them. BOOM!
Which necessitated my incorporating under an LLC.
Me: “I can’t do this Lord. I’ve never owned my own company before. I don’t know anything about how to do this.”
The LORD: “Can you learn?”
And this is how HOPEWELL Companies LLC was born. It’s been 5 years since my first steps towards self-employment, and over 4.5 years since incorporating as a WOSB. What a journey of faith this as been!!
“Your words are the forerunner of the events that are to come.” ~Charles Capps
But back to the painting (completed piece below). Back to the garden spot. Back to the power of the seed sown to either bring life and blessing, or death and cursing into my life. I’ve been so busy trying to run my business, and blog, and lead small groups, and pursue a few personal interests that I’ve become a sloppy gardner. I gotten tired, and distracted, and have been burning the candle at both ends … and as my reward I’ve now got weed-seed growing in my garden.
Time to go back to the basics! Time to pluck out those nasty old seeds of fear and doubt and discouragement and fatigue … and instead plant Living Word-Seeds like PERSISTANCE OF FAITH, DILIGENCE, HOPE IN THE PROMISE, and LOVE.
“Faith is what keeps those dreams alive, even when it seems as though they are dead and buried. That is the very nature of seeds. They go underground. They disappear. And while it may seem like they are dead, they are not. They’re just germinating, beneath the surface.” ~Mark Batterson, Draw The Circle
Have you been tending your garden? Are you harvesting what you want (because you’ve been sowing what you want to reap), or have you been harvesting what you don’t want (because you’ve not been mindful to guard your heart and guard your mouth)?
It is out of the overflow of your heart that word-seeds are planted in the garden spot of your soul. What’s growing in your garden?
It would greatly bless me to hear from you. Please take a moment to comment, encourage, or ask a question below.
======= All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.
It was 2013. I was working at a company that I hated. Or more accurately, it was the practices and philosophies of the management team that I objected to. Foul language. Temper tantrums. Verbally berating employees. To put it simply, I was miserable and it showed, in my actions and in my words.
Until the day that God cleared His throat.
Let me explain.
Still single after divorcing “Mr T” some 20-years earlier, at age 50 I legally changed my last name to HOPEWELL … a name whispered to me by God, and which serves as a daily reminder to me to “hope well”. (pretty cool, huh?)
In 2011, I was part of a downsizing event. It was the first time in my working career that I’d ever been “let go” and it stung. Thankfully, when it happened I was smack dab in the midst of a FAITH-quest, feeding and feasting on everything I could get my hands on that had to do with learning how to speak FAITH vs FEAR. So when I was notified that Friday that my services were no longer needed, I calmly packed my belongings, and drove home speaking declarations like:
You know all my needs Lord, and I refuse to give way to fear about this.
Thank you Father, in advance, for the new job that You are preparing for me.
Every need that I have is met in you, Jesus. I trust you to take care of me.
“The Word that’s abiding in you, that’s alive in you, is the Word that talks to you. It’s the Word that leads you moment-by-moment as you go about your day. The abiding Word will come up in your heart, much like words and notes of a familiar song might spontaneously run through your mind.” ~Gloria Copeland, Putting Your Words To Work
I started that job with such enthusiasm, strongly desiring to honor God in that position by being more bold about my faith at work. By the end of my first week there, I had decorated my cubicle with calendars and posters that clearly identified me as a woman of faith and power. I was going to do great things for God at that company!
The Word that’s in you in abundance is also the Word you hear coming out of your mouth, for “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”. (Luke 6:45) … To conquer the challenges of the world, the flesh and the devil, you must have the spiritual strength within you that only the engrafted Word can provide. You have to be so established in the Word that it automatically rises up within you in a moment of crisis.”
Sadly, by late 2013, I’d taken most of those posters down. I knew I wasn’t being a very good representative for Christ, but I honestly hated going to work -hated the way they treated people -hated the way they treated me -and that hatred had corrupted my mouth to such an extent that instead of speaking God’s words over the situation all I did was gripe and grumble and mutter to myself (pretty much from 8-5pm) about how much I hated my job. You get the idea.
“Ehh-hem! You are not living up to your name.”
I love when God speaks to me, but it’s no fun to be on the receiving end of His correction. It was as though He held up a mirror, and my heart sunk at the reflection being returned to me. Gone was the woman of faith and power, replaced by a woman of paste and flour. Resentful and hard-hearted, critical of others and pridefully self-righteous. I was representing the exact opposite of a woman who “hoped well”, and unless I wanted God to change my name to “Miss Pissy Pants” I knew what I had to do.
I had to forgive. period. end of story.
I had to change my attitude.
And I was going to start by changing my words.
I’ll be honest – it was hard! Especially at the beginning!!! So to help keep me on track, I taped to my desk (just below my keyboard, so that only I could see it) a little affirmation based on a quote I’d heard from Charles Capps. When frustration threatened to overwhelm me, and I was tempted to gripe and grumble and internally cuss people out (*sigh*), I would instead make myself breathe and thank God that He was preparing for me “a perfect, well paying, and satisfying job”.
It didn’t happen overnight … but my heart changed … and relationships healed … and I regained a level of Christian influence with my colleagues … and then …. well, I’ll write about that next week when I reveal the finished painting. (I’m so excited!!)
I still wrestle with discouragement. I still have to guard my mouth. And recently, the Lord is reminding me that “keeping silent” can be as destructive as speaking “careless words”. Hmmm.
“As for me, this is my covenant with them”, says the Lord.
“My spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth…..” (Isaiah 59:21)
If you would like to learn more about what the Bible has to say about the power of words, may I suggest this 31-day devotional “Putting Your Words to Work”, Gloria Copeland She is one of my favorite Bible teachers (probably because she reminds me so very much of my beloved Aunt Mac <3).
======= All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.
I’m embarrassed to say that there was a time in my life (late teens-early 20’s) that I had quite a mouth on me. No, I didn’t have a potty mouth (my mom would have literally washed my mouth out with soap … and my perspective of God was that He was listening up there in heaven and would score me ‘negative points’ for cussing). Instead, I had a mean mouth. I knew how to use words to cut someone down to the quick in 3.5 seconds flat. I was actually kind of proud of that – how skilled I could be with my words – and if you crossed me (especially in the work place) you were probably going to be on the receiving end of some pretty mean-spirited words, skillfully crafted to inflict pain and let you know (in no uncertain terms) not to mess with me again.
I’ve already written (see My Story category) about my abusive second marriage. So I guess it was Mr. “T” that really helped me to understand how much words can hurt a soul. As a result, I became a little more thoughtful about my speech. Instead of just blurting out all the venomous words bubbling up, I learned to shut my mouth and first process my feelings/emotions … and then once I had control over my mouth (or at least thought I did), I would then try to speak my feelings. Good practice in life, but unfortunately doesn’t accomplish much good when you’re married to an abusive sociopath. Still, I learned some valuable lessons about the power of words during my almost 10-year marriage to him.
A single mom by age 31, my two young daughters provided me many (many) opportunities to practice managing my mouth. Countless opportunities to instill in their hearts the truth that words carry with them the powerto build someone up or to tear them down … and our house rules (in my house, at least), were to speak kindly.
But it wasn’t until my 50’s that I began to study what the Bible says about the power of words.
I’ve been working on my painting – and as I consider what the “Garden Spot of the Soul” might look like, I can’t help but imagine what the Adam and Eve might have experienced during their walks with God ‘in the cool of the day’. (Genesis 3:8-9)
“In the beginning, God placed everything that man could use and enjoy in the Garden. God saw to it Adam lacked nothing. He lacked no good thing. He was created in the image of God Himself, leaving nothing to be desired.
God furnished Adam with companionship, ability, abundance, and a kingdom. He told Adam to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it and have dominion over every living creature. Adam was the master of the Garden, and God was the master of Adam. God’s man was free in every way!”
God designed a world in which His highest creation, mankind, would live in community with Him. And similar to how God used His creative power to create time, space, and everything that was created (John 1:1-3), Adam was given a level of creative power in order to subdue and have dominion over a portion of God’s creation. And the way that Adam exercised that power was through words … the very same mechanism that God used to speak the galaxies into existence.
“The Sower sows the word” Mark 4:14
Adam’s words had power. Power for Life and Blessing. Power for Death and Cursing.
“He (Adam) knew no bondage until that fatal day when …
Every phase of Adam’s life came under the curse of his new god, Satan. He was driven from the Garden; abundance was no longer his to enjoy. He had to toil and sweat in order to survive. His beautiful life was overrun with thorns and thistlesboth in the physical world and in the spiritual world.”
And there we have it … the entrance of thorns and thistles. They were brought into being by negative and contrary words spoken by Adam and Eve (words that don’t say what God says and don’t agree with God’s declared will), thus sowing seeds of death and cursing instead of seeds of life and blessing.
I quickly snapped this picture to show my progress – the lighting is poor and clearly I’ve a long ways left to go. But I’m trying to lay colors down in layers this time – to take it slow and let it evolve naturally. Hopefully I can keep this going without having to start over again. We’ll see. 🙂
Excerpts quoted are from the book “God’s Will Is Prosperity” by Gloria Copeland.
All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.