"16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. 20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence." Colossians 2: 16-23 (NIV)
I was sitting and talking to Jesus this morning before my morning walk and He directed me to these scriptures. Jesus truly does work in His own way, ways that are higher than our thoughts and dreams. I've been worried about how people (my close circle) would view some of my ways. Some of them may be considered strange. Then I was given a Word last night from the throne room with confirmation this morning in the form of scripture. See, I can sometimes be Gideon (see Judges 6:36-40). I ask for the fleece test repeatedly. It's not because of my lack of trust in God's ability but my lack of trust in my own. Yet, God still loves me and trusts me to do as He says. Can I explain this? Nope. But, then I'll go back to the earlier statement, 'Jesus truly does work in His own way'.
Here is what I've learned from last night to this morning. Don't let anyone - be it spouse, family, friends, children, co-workers, the outside world - stop you from pursuing that which God has for you. Their religious practices may say what is or is not allowed, yet, what does God say? When I first gave my life over to Christ, I joined a church with roots in the Baptist, Holiness, and Apostolic communities. I began to hear stories of those that grew up in church and were not allowed to go to movies, dances, the women couldn't wear pants, and so on. I thought this was crazy. I mean truly - what did any of this have to do with God? Later, I understood that it had more to do with man's fear of what would happen if these things were apart of their world. Would they submit to temptations? Would they succumb to the flesh and fleshly things of this world? Here's what I learned - there is temptation in and out of church. Temptation can sit on the pew beside you. Now, that doesn't mean that the person desires you but it certainly could mean that the thing on the inside of you is unruly and your only way of controlling it is to control your environment. If you can't control yourself, then maybe its best to live alone with no television, phone, internet, music, etc. Temptation will always be present. If you are a believer, then know that a thorn in your flesh is normal - ask Paul. "7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NIV).
So, what do we do? How do we overcome the thorns? It's really very simple. So simple that we make it complex. We grow closer to God through prayer, fasting, and worship. We make time in the day to spend quality time with Him. I don't know what that will look like for you. Each of us will need to interpret that on our own. But, the basics of it is very simple. Take the time to devout to your relationship with Christ. Simple. Basic. But, it does require some sacrifice. Maybe you need to get up earlier in the morning or excuse yourself from a phone conversation. Maybe the time you've devoted to reading a particular book becomes your time to read the Word. There are 24 hours in a day. He isn't asking for your whole 24 hours. But, give Him what is due. IF you don't have a set time now, start in small increments, say 20 minutes. Then as you grow, your desire to spend time with Him will grow. And guess what, so will you.
Be A Blessing and Not Just Blessed