June 2017

Happy Father’s Day! It always amazes me to read the responses from the website. This month I share a letter from Michael, who asked me to share a Scripture that has helped me through difficult times. That was easy for me to answer; it’s Romans 8:28, 29.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

From the Mailbox…

“I wrote because I read you’re a Christian, and I thought you could help me out. I was born in Virginia, raised in a small town in MA, and at age eleven, we moved to Greensboro, NC. After high school, I joined the Marine Corps. I was with an infantry battalion stationed in 29 Palms (CA). I served two tours of duty in Iraq in ’03 and ’04. The war was both traumatic and rewarding. It made me feel how fortunate I was to be both born and raised in the U.S.A.

“After the Marines, I returned to Greensboro, and I went to college on the GI Bill. Then, I moved to CA. I’ve lived in Tustin now for five years. I’ve never been married or had kids. Though I pray God blesses me with a God-fearing wife who is loyal, and I’d love to be a father. I struggle with my experiences in Iraq, plus I struggle with not having a wife, kids, or a career at 35. Do you think people are destined for having a life they desire? Which Scriptures have helped you get through difficult times in your life? What made you want to become a Christian? How has your faith in God changed your life?

“I was raised a Catholic, but my love of God and accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior didn’t truly happen until I went to war at the age of 21. That all said, I still sin and feel guilty. I confess my sins to God, but I still feel compunction and hypocrisy. Do you have any advice for a 35-year-old Marine-Iraq-war veteran? I’d greatly appreciate it. Thank you! You’re in both my thoughts and prayers. With humility and gratitude, Michael, CA.”

Delight Yourselves…

What a wonderful letter from Michael. At times, all of us have problems making sense of our lives.  Trying to figure it out for ourselves seems impossible. Thank God for humility to ask for help instead of hastily making foolish decisions.

God’s formula for success isn’t like ours. It’s all about developing a relationship with God and serving Him in all we do. Michael asked for Scriptures that help me. Psalm 37:4, 5 is another one:

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”

Delight means “…to take great pleasure [in the Lord], being satisfied greatly, rejoicing with feelings or display of triumph and joy, expecting something good or desirable” according to Webster, emphasis added. In answer to Michael’s question concerning his desires, as we delight in God’s grace [His death, burial and resurrection] through commitment and trust, our righteous desires will be surely fulfilled by the Lord.

Desires of Your Heart…

We all have natural desires like Michael shared in his letter, but are they prompted by the Spirit or the flesh? Jesus said, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” 1 As we put God first, our thoughts and desires conceive God’s righteous path for us. (Check out my chart “Harnessing Your Emotions” under ALMS Charts, A9).

Our thoughts and imaginations are to be kept upon God’s love for us through the finished works of the cross. “Long ago the Lord said to Israel: I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” 2 With our thoughts on Jesus, our fleshly, lustful thoughts have no place in our lives, giving no foothold to the devil. 3

Most of us have a restless battle going on in our minds between seeking God and the world, the flesh and the devil. It takes humility to submit ourselves to God’s program for healthy and godly living, instead of the way of pride and selfishness that the world offers.

“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” 4

Commit Your Way and Trust…

As we humble ourselves to God’s love and grace, it’s much easier to resist the devil, committing our way to the Lord, through trusting in Him. As we do, He’ll bring our desires to pass as He promises to do for His children.

Michael asked me, “What made you want to become a Christian?” The goodness of God brought me to repentance. 5 What I heard about Christ as a child came to life in 1975. The Holy Spirit convinced me of my sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. 6 I went to the altar in the prison chapel and came away glowing in the Spirit. I went back to my cell, looked in the mirror and saw Jesus in my face. I’ve never stopped shining!

Again Michael asked, “How has your faith in God changed your life?” Mostly, He’s changed my heart’s desires from the inside out – spirit, soul and body. This is the key, as our desires change, we’re changed into His image, which is His purpose for us all. “And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 7

A Prayer for You…

Father, I thank You for revealing to me that as I delight myself in You, You give me the desires of my heart. Your goodness has truly brought me to repentance, a change of heart, mind, will and emotions. I commit my all to Your will for my life, not my will. May Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. I relinquish my desires to Your desires for my life, that is, to be changed into Your image from glory to glory by the Holy Spirit. I’m thankful that I can trust You to guide me into all truth and purpose for my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Scripture References (NLT):

1. Matt. 6:33
2. Jere. 31:3
3. Eph. 4:27
4. Jm. 4:7,8
5. Rom. 3:4
6. Jn. 16:8
7. 2 Cor. 3:18b

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