Monday, 18 January 2016

Spiritual Disciplines - my personal experience with chastity, sacrifice and submission

Context: I am never surprised yet always amazed by the topics my church leaders select for me to blog about. At times, I am equally frustrated by the process because I submit my blog for review before the sermon is even preached leaving me without context - yet as always God is faithful and he connects the dots. Every year, I pray for a word from God to carry me through. A word that will help me grow and draw nearer to Him and those I love. In the past, I have had words like, commit, rest, trust, rely. This year my word is discipline (grrr!!) so I was grateful when I learned that our church would be teaching on spiritual disciplines - I was excited to have the opportunity to narrow down the field of spiritual discipline. As part of my research I read the following article;
On Sunday mornings, I am also learning about the difference between disciplines of abstinence and those of engagement. Personally, prayer, service and worship are more appealing than frugality, sacrifice and fasting however, it appears that for 2016 I will be working on sacrifice and submission for the greater good of God's kingdom -that's a blog for another day! In the meantime, I leave you with my personal experience with chastity, sacrifice and submission!
Chastity, Sacrifice and Submission are disciplines of abstinence which require dying to self.  

I often cringe at the mention of the word discipline. I feel uncomfortable at the thought of doing something that will require a constant effort and my pride gets in the way often refusing to entertain daily practices which will in the end be of great benefit to my relationship with Jesus and others. Despite knowing that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” and that I am not “hidden from God” (Psalm 139), “the passions of my flesh, wage war against my soul” (1 Peter 2:11).

I admit, there are times, that I am double-minded and waiver between God’s commands and my desires. Feelings become thoughts, thoughts become temptations, temptations become actions and actions become sin which separates me from God. This thread is possible because I can easily deceive myself; manipulating my thoughts to distort the truth and obtain what it is I want in that moment.

We're all searching for something…We're all searching for someone…We're all longing for love… It is this very thread that has deceived me in the past and led me to sexual immorality. In December 2004, following separation from my husband, I was extremely lonely and found myself looking for love in all the wrong places. I tended to pursue what/who it is I wanted, no matter the cost or consequences to others. As a result, I embraced a new intimate relationship and wasn’t alone for Christmas. Yet I still wasn’t fulfilled and was hurt in the end. Approximately two years later, I met someone through an online dating site and engaged in another intimate relationship which in the end resulted in unfulfilled comparisons to previous relationships, unmet expectations and pain. In 2008, my tactics hadn’t changed. I was lonely and longing for love and sought out yet another intimate relationship…this time I questioned my motives and whether or not this was God's will. Was I being righteous and obedient or just living in the flesh? This thread had a hold on me; it was the enemy's way of reminding me of words spoken over me in my childhood "you are nothing without a man by your side". We only had a couple of dates when God revealed to me that this was not His will...I already knew it in my spirit because I did not have peace about it. However, in the flesh we can manage to deceive even ourselves. I had to cut this thread that bound me once and for all.

As I was growing with Jesus and others, it was easy enough to find encouragement and accountability. I was reminded to Guard my heart "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.” (Matthew 15:19). Meditate on God’s truth “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything...The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body…But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:12-20. And, Submit to God "Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey Gods laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God" (Romans 8:5-8).

Today, as a result of resisting, redirecting, and renewing my thoughts as well as rehearsing appropriate responses, and; seeking God first by guarding my heart, meditating on His word and submitting to Him, I find myself, in a Christ-centered, committed, caring marriage. Praise the Lord, Jesus and the Holy Spirit for not giving up on me and making it a moment by moment process weaving the best threads ever into my life!

Now I know that I know that, Only One can fill my longing…Only One can satisfy…His name is Jesus...The thread of everlasting hope!