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Book Review: Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full

I would love to buy cases of this book and hand it out to all the moms I know!

If you are looking for an honest and gospel centered book on mothering – Buy this book!  Whether you are a mom to small children or grown…even grandmas!  You will want this book!
Husbands:  This would be a great Mother’s Day gift! Buy this book for your wife!

“Yes, mother, your hands are full, literally. And your hands are filled to overflowing with grace by the one who stretched his hands out for you on the cross. “
 

I highly recommend (can you tell?)  Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full by Gloria Furman. 
Gloria’s bio states, 

“I’m a follower of Jesus Christ, wife to Dave, mother of four young children, and a Tex-Mex enthusiast. When my husband and I moved to the Middle East in 2008 to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai it was just the two of us and our baby girl, and we had no idea what the Lord was going to do. Not a day goes by that we’re not astonished by God’s grace in calling us here, in using us to minister to people from many nations, and in blessing us with three more children along the way.”
 She is the author of Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home and blogs regularly at the Gospel Coalition, Desiring God, andGloriaFurman.com.
 


I was so thrilled to read a book, written by a young mother, that is so full of godly wisdom and truth.  So much so, that I have little doubt that it was written through the power of God and for His great glory.

“The gift of motherhood points mothers to treasure Jesus Christ as he transforms our heart from the inside out. That’s the subject I am going to unpack in this book. In case you’re too busy to read the rest of it (I know what that’s like!), the gist of my thesis is this:
Because of the gospel—the news about what Jesus did on the cross to save sinners—mothers who make Christ their treasure can rejoice in their work as God works in them. “
 

I love how she points out in the beginning of the book that, 

 
“Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full is not a to-do list on how to be a good mother. It’s about our good God and what he has done.  And, While I do not venture to give sage advice in the how-to’s of mothering (my oldest child is still in primary
school), the application of the gospel to motherhood is immensely practical. I kept a note on my desktop while writing these pages. The note says: “Resist the urge to reduce God’s Word to nice tips for nice living: give them the gospel.”

Once I got to this point in the book, I knew I wanted to read more!

 

Mrs. Furman has an uncanny way of shining a scriptural light upon the lies and misconceptions of motherhood.  She is transparent in the motives of the heart and quick to combat her sin and wrong thinking with the Truth of the Word.  I so love her heart in this book and her desire to point everything to Christ.  Sometimes a book will have a title that is just catchy.  Not this book.  It is clear that Treasuring Christ is not only the title, but the intent of the entire work.  From first page to last, Furman points herself and mothers to Christ: Part 1-God Made Motherhood for Himself and Part 2-Motherhood for Worship. Every section of this book is so filled with Christ and the Truth of scripture, that there are 3 full pages in the back to notate the Scripture references!  I always say don’t read any man-written book without your bible right beside…I still say it for this book, though it is wonderfully on point with referencing every thought or statement against the Word of God.  So refreshing.

And grace.  Grace is a popular topic throughout the history of Christian writers, yet many are seeing and understanding grace in a new light in this generation.  Furman stays biblically firm in her application of God’s grace:

Family Tradition #1: We Always Need God’s Grace

He fulfilled God’s highest expectations of perfection, and in Him all the promises of God find their Yes (2 Cor. 1:20). In Him we find mercy in our time of need—which is alwaysGrace is the most important thing for us to keep in mind as we shape the expectations of our home. Our children need to grow up knowing, “We always trust God because he’s willing and able to help us,” and, “We always praise God because he is our most valuable treasure.” And we need to get up every morning knowing, “I always trust God because he’s willing and able to help me.”

 

Yet, she lovingly causes us to take an honest look and  true inventory of our need for grace:

“Do you need God’s grace? Or do you have what it takes to multitask your busy routine? Do you need God’s grace? Or have you been “down this road before” with your husband, and your conflict will sort itself out in time? Do you need God’s grace? Or do you just need Google? Do you need God’s grace? Or do you pretty much have this motherhood gig in the bag? 

She gives so many real world and transparent examples in her own life…when she blows it, being willing to ask her children forgiveness, and to defeating unrealistic expectations and guilt:

“Things like “mommy guilt” cannot crush us because Christ was crushed on the cross in our stead. Jesus is our consistency;”

“The Lord is just as near to you when you’re using a bulb sucker on a tiny, congested nose and as you’re summoning the wisdom of Solomon to settle a spat over a disputed toy.”

“Indeed, the steadfast love of the Lord is better than life (Ps. 63:3) because his love gives us his life. Because of his love we are able to love. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

It is this love—the love of Christ—that compels Christian mothers to love their children.”

“Why was I so depleted in love for others? Why was my attitude so hostile toward the people I love the most? In my prayerful reflections on that incident, the Lord graciously revealed to me that I had a deep craving to satisfy my own needs before the needs of others. I saw how my nearly unceasing service toward my family had actually been powered by attempts to resuscitate myself through sheer willpower and control my environment. “


“There are no perfect moms,” we quip, but we’ll die trying to prove we might be the exception. “

In a time when countless books are being written on how to be a better mom, how to get your kids to love you more or how to get more “me-time”, Gloria Furman’s book stands out as the book that shows us how to treasure Christ more, how to glorify God in the privilege of motherhood, and how to point our children to Christ by showing and embracing grace.

“Treasuring Christ as preeminent in our lives gives our children a self-sacrificing, neighbor-serving, sin-forgiving, grace-extending illustration of how God is worthy to be seen, admired, and displayed as the greatest hope we could ever have. Jesus is the one who loves us most of all with his redeeming love.”

(I was given a copy of this book by Beyond the Page/Crossway Books in exchange for an honest review)


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Bad Bosses and Irritating People, part IV

god stuff 4

Standing in Judgment

“Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions…who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way…(Romans 14:1, 4, 7-13, NAS).”

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged (Matthew 7:1, NAS).”

It is exceedingly difficult, nay, impossible, for the flesh of mankind to not pass judgment on those who offend and/or irritate us. However, it is through the Spirit of God exclusively that we are supernaturally capable of overcoming such judgment against others. Sufficed to say, there is no one who can honestly say that judgment does not cross their mind and heart from time to time – after all, it is human nature and we dwell temporarily is this earthen vessel.

In order to be successful in this or any area of God’s commands, we must remember that we are no longer of the human race, but of the heavenly race – the Kingdom race. We are but strangers and aliens in the earth sent from heaven to bring heaven down to earth. This is so because we are dead and our only life is Christ. In other words, once in Christ, our earthly origin ceases and our heavenly origin begins.

If you are like I, people irritate you! In our irritation, judgment can easily take hold of our hearts and grow bitter roots. Hebrews 12:15 is clear about bitterness: “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.” Operating in a judgmental/critical spirit against others no matter how innocent it may seem, causes bitter roots to spring within our hearts like weeks and they taint not only our walk with God with it takes others down with us.

Because of the nature of the flesh in which we currently remain, it is altogether a necessity to hone in on the Spirit of God within us through our spirit-man. If we do not daily (moment to moment) purposefully tap into Holy Spirit, we will find ourselves in the midst of fleshly judgment. We can defend it all day long but unless we, one, choose to recognize that we have indeed passed critical judgment in our hearts as well as, two, choose to repent of it and lay it at the foot of the cross, things will not change as we would otherwise hope. Pray though we may for God to remove us or the irritant, nothing will change until we allow God to transform us from the inside out and love and accept others as they are.

We are not to regard a brother with contempt. This is why we are urged to go to a brother with whom we have a problem so as to resolve the matter. We are to conclude our conflicts, not simply for our selves, but for the greater good of the Kingdom of God. For this reason, there is to be unity between the brethren and we should seek peace at all times, respecting one another.

One who is rebellious, for instance, will be perpetually faced with people who “force” them to rebel because, from where God stands, He recognizes the need for the weaknesses of rebellion to be exposed so that the individual will choose to deal with it through God’s strength. Otherwise, if they continue in their rebellion, the same old obstacles and irritating people will continuously come in their path; hence, frustration remains.

Likewise, one who is impatient will continually come in contact with people who try their patience. One who is timid in their faith will continuously be put in situations where they need to be bold. One who is confrontational will be put in situations where they need to submit in both humility and silence, and so on.

For me personally, the nature of the flesh in which I dwell is exceedingly confrontational. I have to be diligent with my time tapping into Holy Spirit continuously so as to be able to clearly discern when to confront a situation and when to be silent. In everything we say and do, it is a walk of balance that can only come from personal intimacy with Holy Spirit. There should never be a break in our communion with Yahweh.

Until we begin to view everything in everyday life as for the Kingdom of God instead of for or against us personally, not only will circumstances not change, but they will invariably grow worse. Since everything ultimately originates from God whether it comes from Satan’s hand or wicked men, we must say with humility instead of irritation, “What is it You, Yahweh, are trying to show me that I have not yet seen? Reveal my weaknesses to me so that Your strength may prevail in order for Your Kingdom to be advanced through me in the earth. I trust You and submit to You for Your honor and Your glory. Whatever You desire, I desire. Whatever You love, I love. Whatever You hate, I hate.”

There’s always a lesson. There’s always a God-plan. There’s always hope. There’s always growth that He desires to come forth from us, for us and, most importantly, for His great name’s sake. No situation or scenario is in vain or to hurt us. It isn’t even for punishment’s sake; it is always for the Kingdom of God. May we keep our spiritual eye open to see the bigger picture always and remember that you do not belong to yourself, but to the Lord our Great God. I remind myself of this daily so as to stay on heavenly point instead of veering away from the path of God.

 

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).”

 

I hope you’ll come back next week. If you’re interested in reading more, please go to my website and check out my books or my ministry Facebook page.

Peace and blessings,

Alexys V. Wolf

www.thefierysword.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Fiery-Sword-Global-Ministries/185299884822251

http://thefierysword.wordpress.com/


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Bad Bosses and Irritating People, part III

god stuff 4

Bad Bosses and Irritating People, Part III

Philippians 1:27 (NAS): “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

Ephesians 6:5-8 (NAS): “Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, AS TO CHRIST…as SLAVES OF CHRIST, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, AS TO THE LORD, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this HE WILL RECEIVE BACK FROM THE LORD…”

I Timothy 6:1-2 (NAS): “All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that (here’s the “why” of it) the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against. Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.”

 

Verse after verse we read God’s instruction as to how to treat a boss, believer or non-believer. Since all authority is placed by God, good or bad in the natural, they are there to serve so as to refine us in our walk with Yahweh. We are to honor them, not for our sake or theirs, but more so for the sake of God’s great name and His kingdom. When we refuse to obey, we are refusing obedience to God; of course we are not speaking of doing that which is ungodly.

If you, for instance, have a boss that is constantly making demands of you that you feel are unreasonable, you should do it without grumbling or complaining. Certainly if you need to go up the chain of command, that is not out of the question. However, in the mean time, you are commanded of God to honor and respect whoever is in a position of authority over you. This is when you would need to rely solely upon the promise of Yahweh that says that God will repay you. When God’s people honor those in authority, we honor God. Our reward if forthcoming; it is not an if, but a when.

If you are dealing with law enforcement, they are not your boss from whom you receive your pay, but they are in fact your authority. If you don’t want to be in fear of them, it would behoove us all to obey the law. Romans 13-7, reads “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.  Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves…therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake… render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”

I often think of Daniel when the law was set against him for the purpose of entrapment. He did not kick and scream and shout profanities at the king or his enforcers. He did not protest by chaining himself to a tree or hold a sit-in. He did not demand that they make things right and boastfully state, “Don’t you know who I am? I’m the servant of the Most High God! You better make things right or else!” – on the contrary.

Daniel being the true man of God that he was quietly continued to do as he always did. He didn’t change anything. He wasn’t loud or obnoxious – he remained steady and sure. He did not obey the wicked law because it was against God. At the same time, he did not disrespect the king who made the law, foolish though it was. By humbly conducting himself in a manner worthy of the King of kings, God protected him. Even the king who made the law did everything he could to release and save Daniel.

That is how the supernatural Kingdom of God is able to manifest itself in the earth! When we do things God’s way, solely depending upon God to render good back to His people, the atmosphere shifts in ways that we ourselves could never make happen. Because of Daniel’s humility, faith, and steadfastness, multitudes witnessed the righteous, supernatural, mighty had of God.

Let us be ever mindful of doing things God’s way as unto Him so as to preserve the good name of Yahweh whom we say we serve. Taking matters into our own hands will surely cause chaos. Hebrews 13:17 states “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”

I hope you’ll come back next week. If you’re interested in reading more, please go to my website and check out my books or my ministry Facebook page.

Peace and blessings,

Alexys V. Wolf

www.thefierysword.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Fiery-Sword-Global-Ministries/185299884822251

http://thefierysword.wordpress.com/


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ACCUSATION AND CONVICTION

Neil Andeerson

By Neil Anderson
March 20

2 Corinthians 7:10
The sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death

A graphic example of the contrast between accusation and conviction is found in the lives of Judas Iscariot and Simon Peter. Somehow Judas allowed Satan to deceive him into betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Luke 22:3-5). When Judas realized what he had done, he was so remorseful that he hung himself. Was his suicide the result of Satan’s accusation or of God’s conviction? It had to be accusation because it drove Judas to kill himself. Accusation leads to death; conviction leads to repentance and life.

Peter also failed Jesus by denying Him. It apparently began with pride as the disciples argued over who was the greatest among them (Luke 22:24-30). Jesus told Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat” (verse 31). That’s right–Jesus allowed Satan to put Peter through the mill because Peter had given the enemy a foothold through pride. But Jesus also looked at Peter and said, “I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (verse 32).

Peter vowed to die with Jesus, but Jesus told him that he would deny Him three times (verses 33, 34) which he did. The remorse Peter felt was every bit as painful as that which Judas experienced. But Peter’s sorrow was from conviction which led to his eventual repentance and restoration to Christ (John 21:15-17). When your feelings of remorse drive you from God, you are being accused by Satan. Resist it. But when your sorrow draws you to confront Christ and confess your wrong, you are being convicted by the Spirit. Yield to it through repentance.

According to Revelation 12:10, Satan’s continuing work is to accuse the brethren. But the good news is that Christ’s continuing work is to intercede for us as He did for Peter (Hebrews 7:25). We have a persistent adversary, but we have an even more persistent, eternal advocate who defends us before the Father on the basis of our faith in Him (1 John 2:1).

Prayer: I rejoice, Lord, that You are constantly defending me against accusation before the Father.


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Humility and Forgiveness

Jesus cross

“Agree quickly with your adversary (Matthew 5:25, NAS).”

 “It is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded (II Corinthians 6:7, NAS).”

 “We are to clothe ourselves daily in humility (I Peter 5:5, NAS).”

 

We are thinking only of ourselves when we are more concerned about being wronged rather than what the Lord wants us to learn or see in a situation. God’s holy people are to allow God to exude patience and love in and through us. Daily we must ask God to strip us of any and all pride, bathe us in righteousness and clothe us in humility. Ask God to help increase your faith deeply within. The stronger the faith, the closer the walk, the easier to recognize pride, the faster to allow Yeshua to remove pride and replace it with humility, the more we are like Jesus. This is where the Scripture of pulling down strongholds and imaginations enters:

II Corinthians 10:3-6 (NAS):  For though we live in this world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

 When your thoughts become prideful and you begin to think more highly of yourself than you ought, take the authority Jesus Christ has given His people and pull it down away from you. This text in II Corinthians is written because God understands the frail condition of the flesh and just how quickly mankind can be led astray by it. Don’t allow pride to stay so as to fester causing it to manifest in any area of life. Pride is foolishness on any and every level. Be “ready to punish all disobedience” of your life.

Pray for Holy Spirit to stir discernment; if Jesus is in you, discernment is also. Remember, there is a difference between discernment and prejudice; between righteous judgment and being judgmental. Commit to being humble and confess daily to Yahweh that you choose to walk humbly in all of your ways. Command the spirits of pride and rebellion to depart from your midst, and replace them with humility and obedience. Holy Spirit within is the only One who has the power to overcome pride. Allow Christ to guide you into holiness, humility, and obedience.

We all need to stop being so concerned as to who is hurting us and focus on how healing can begin to manifest. Focusing on your “rights” to be angry, hurt, or to retaliate is not of God. Focusing on forgiveness and humility from the heart of God will lead to victory every time!

 I hope you’ll come back next week as we continue to explore the subject of humility. If you’re interested in reading more on this subject, please go to my website and check out my books.

 Peace and blessings,

 Alexys V. Wolf

www.thefierysword.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Fiery-Sword-Global-Ministries/185299884822251

http://thefierysword.wordpress.com/

 


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THE TWO ADAMS

By Neil Anderson

 Neil Anderson

March 1

Romans 5:18 

So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.
 
The reason so many Christians are not enjoying the maturity and freedom which is their inheritance in Christ is because they hold wrong self-perceptions. They don’t see themselves as they really are in Christ. They don’t understand the dramatic change which occurred in them the moment they trusted in Him. They don’t see themselves the way God sees them, and to that degree they suffer from a poor self-image. They don’t grasp their true identity. They identify themselves with the wrong Adam.
 
Too many Christians identify only with the first Adam, whose sad story of failure is found in Genesis 1-4. Sure, you inherited physical life from Adam. But if you’re a Christian, that’s where the similarity ends. You are now identified with the last Adam, Jesus Christ. You are not in Adam; you are in Christ. You are seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:6). The difference between the two Adams in your history is eternally profound. You need to be sure you’re identifying with the right one.
 
The first thing we notice about Christ, the last Adam, is His complete dependence on God the Father. The first Adam was tempted to live independently of God and chose to believe the serpent’s lie about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But Jesus was totally dependent on the Father (John 5:30; 6:57; 8:42; 14:10; 17:7).
 
A second vital difference between the two Adams relates to spiritual life. Adam was born physically and spiritually alive. But when Adam sinned, he died spiritually. Like the first Adam, Jesus was born spiritually alive as well as physically alive. But unlike the first Adam, Jesus did not forfeit His spiritual life at some point through sin. He kept His spiritual life all the way to the cross. There He died, taking the sins of the world upon Himself. Now in His resurrected, glorified body, Christ lives on today and for all eternity.
 
Are you identifying with Jesus Christ, the last Adam, today?
 
Prayer:
 
Thank You, Father, for the last Adam–Jesus Christ–through whom I am saved and sealed. I purpose by Your help to live in my true identity today.


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A COMPASSIONATE COUNSELOR

By Neil Anderson

 Neil Anderson

February 27
 
Matthew 9:13 
But go and learn what this means, “I desire compassion, and not sacrifice”
 
I used to ask my seminary students two questions: What attributes, strengths and characteristics would you look for in a person with whom you could share your deepest personal problems? Would you be willing to commit yourself to become that kind of person–someone others could confide in?
 
The essential prerequisite for a Christian counselor is to become the kind of person with whom others feel confident in sharing the problems of their present and past. Christian counseling doesn’t require a college degree, although those who counsel professionally can be greatly helped by receiving Bible-based training. Whether you sit on the platform or in the pew, whether you sit at a desk in a counseling clinic or at a dining room table, God can use you to minister to people with problems if you are compassionate.
 
You can’t really help a person unless you hear his whole story, and you won’t hear it unless you are the kind of person he can trust. People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care. Compassion is not a question of learning a professional technique; it’s a question of Christian character and love.
 
Counseling seeks to help people deal with the present by resolving conflicts from the past. Many of these conflicts relate to areas of bondage where Satan-induced strongholds have been erected in the mind. People cannot grow and mature because they are not free. The goal of Christian counseling–whether done by a pastor, a professional counselor, or a friend–is to help people experience freedom in Christ so they can move on to maturity and fruitfulness in their walk with Him.
 
Prayer: Lord, increase my compassion so I can be an effective counselor of others. Keep me from jumping to self-righteous conclusions.


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FREED FROM LEGALISM

By Neil Anderson

 Neil Anderson

February 25
 
2 Corinthians 3:5, 6
God . . . made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life
 
Walking by the Spirit is not legalism, the opposite extreme from license. Paul said: “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law” (Galatians 5:18). Stringently striving to obey Christian rules and regulations doesn’t enable the Spirit-filled walk; it often kills it (2 Corinthians 3:6). We’re told in Galatians 3:13 that the law is really a curse, and in Galatians 3:21 that it is impotent, powerless to give life.
 
Laying down the law–telling someone that it is wrong to do this or that–does not give them the power to stop doing it. Christians have been notorious at trying to legislate spirituality with don’ts: Christians don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t dance, don’t attend movies, don’t play cards, don’t wear makeup, etc. But legalism can’t curb immorality. In fact, laying down the law merely serves to heighten the temptation. Paul said that the law actually stimulates the desire to do what it forbids (Romans 7:5)! When you tell your child not to cross a certain line, where does he immediately want to go? Forbidden fruit often seems to be the most desirable.
 
Neither will a Spirit-filled heart be produced by demanding that someone conform to a religious code of behavior. We often equate Christian disciplines such as Bible study, prayer, regular church attendance, and witnessing with spiritual maturity. All these activities are good and helpful for spiritual growth. But merely performing these admirable Christian exercises does not guarantee a Spirit-filled walk.
 
Does this mean that establishing rules is wrong? Of course not. God’s law is a necessary protective moral standard and guideline. But the means by which we live a life of freedom is not the law but grace. Within the confines of God’s law, we are free to nurture a spirit-to Spirit relationship with God, which is the essence of walking in the Spirit.
 
Prayer: Lord, help me encourage other believers to freedom in their walk with You and not impose on them a religious code of behavior.


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RELATIONSHIP, NOT REGIMEN

By Neil Anderson

Neil Anderson

February 23
 
Romans 8:2 
The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death
 
Walking according to the Spirit is more a relationship than a regimen. Think about your marriage as an illustration. You may have started out relying on some rules for effective communication, meeting each other’s sexual needs, etc. But if after several years you can’t even talk to each other or make love without following an outline or list of steps, your marriage is still in infancy. The goal of a marriage is to develop a relationship which supersedes rules.
 
Or think about prayer. Perhaps you learned to pray using the simple acrostic ACTS: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication. But if you have been a Christian for a few years and your prayer life is no deeper than an acrostic, you’ve missed the point of prayer. Prayer is not a formula; it’s the language of your relationship with God. Similarly, walking in the Spirit is essentially a relationship with the indwelling Spirit which defies quantification.
 
Even though Scripture doesn’t give us a formula, it does help us see what the Spirit-filled walk is and what it is not . Helpful parameters are found in Galatians 5:16-18: “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.”
 
So how do you walk by the Spirit? If I answered by giving you a rigid formula, I would be putting you back under the law. The Spirit is not an “it”; the Holy Spirit is a “He”–a person. Walking by the Spirit is a relationship issue, not a legal issue or ritualistic exercise. It is a walk with God.
 
Over the next several days we will examine what the Spirit-walk is and what it is not.
 
Prayer: Father, thank You that my life in You is a relationship, not a set of rules.


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BEYOND THE BOUNDARY

By Neil Anderson

banner_secondary_who i am in christ

February 7
 
1 Corinthians 6:12 
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything
 
Most of us won’t often be tempted to commit obvious sins such as armed robbery, murder or rape. Satan’s tack is to entice us to push something good beyond the boundary of the will of God until it becomes sin. He treats us like the proverbial frog in the pot of water: gradually turning up the heat of temptation, hoping we don’t notice that we are approaching the boundary of God’s will and jump out before something good becomes sin.
 
Everything is good and lawful for us because we are free from sin and no longer under the condemnation of the law. But the following statements reveal how we can wrongly take good things beyond the boundary of God’s will:
 
physical rest becomes laziness ability to profit becomes avarice and greed enjoyment of life becomes intemperance physical pleasure becomes sensuality interest in the possessions of others becomes covetousness enjoyment of food becomes gluttony self-care becomes selfishness self-respect becomes conceit communication becomes gossip cautiousness becomes unbelief anger becomes rage and bad temper lovingkindness becomes overprotection judgment becomes criticism same-sex friendship becomes homosexuality sexual freedom becomes immorality conscientiousness becomes perfectionism generosity becomes wastefulness self-protection becomes dishonesty carefulness becomes fear.
 
Prayer: Lord, I seek Your balance in my life today to do what is profitable without being mastered by anything, even good things.