“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).
There is an old saying: “It is the little foxes that kill the vine.” We do not realize that it is the thought patterns that largely determine our actions and attitudes. I had been a Christian ten or more years, when God decided it was time to prune some of my branches. I was totally unaware that I needed pruning. We serve a merciful God!!! He knew that I would never reach the fullness of God or the purpose He had for me with the huge handicap I unknowingly had in my life.
One day I was going merrily on my way thinking my usual thoughts. All of a sudden my “self life” was interrupted by the Spirit of God. I heard the booming voice of the Spirit say to me, “You are perverse.” I did not know what He meant, but I knew God was displeased with me! The dictionary defines “perverse” as: willfully determined not to do what is expected or desired. Turned away from what is right, good, or proper. I was shocked! I thought I was a totally dedicated child of God, and God was saying I was making some big mistakes in His sight.
Immediately the Lord began to point out that in some cases my opinions were corrupted by my flesh (my early training and surroundings). God’s Word and Holy Spirit were teaching me, and I was reacting to God through my habits and training instead of through my spirit. It is strange that we cannot see ourselves through the eyes of our flesh as God sees us. In addition to the “natural being” there were thoughts and opinions I thought I was entitled to because I had been wounded and hurt. Therefore, I often excused the things that came naturally to me. I never thought in terms of my new nature and what God wanted to create within me.
God’s Word is the measuring stick and we will be judged by His standard—not ours! I began to examine myself in the light of God’s word. For the first time I realized that I could be unforgiving, judgmental, critical, unloving, and stern sometimes. I was raised in a very stern atmosphere and I was stern in my approach to life and situations. I was allowing my “old life” to intrude upon my new life in Christ. I was controlled at times by the old baggage I had allowed to remain in me. I never realized that part of my nature was contrary to the Spirit and love of God. I am sure there were many other sins of my old nature that I don’t recall at this time. These little foxes were giants who affected my attitudes and actions. How wonderful and glorious to realize that with “Christ in us” we can reach God’s highest potential to glorify Him.
I immediately confronted the spirit of “sternness” (severe, strict, hard and much more) within me. I bound it in Christ’s name and cast it out. I asked God to give me a merciful, kind, and gentle spirit. God is still working on me, but praise God, I am a work of God in progress. This was just the beginning of God’s changes in me. It is exciting and thrilling to have God remove, at our own request, the giant hindrances to becoming the person God has called us to be. There isn’t anything that God cannot remove in our nature (flesh) if we repent and invite Him into our hearts and souls to do the work.
We are not limited to the talents or tendencies we are born with. I entered high school with mediocre grades. After I became a Christian I realized that grades were important and I wanted to achieve. I prayed and asked God for His help and I became a straight “A” student. What had once been difficult became attainable through Christ. Without Christ we can never become the person God has purposed for us to be. Through God we can become more than conquerors and all things become possible with the work and leading of the Holy Spirit within us.
If we think we are worthless and cannot achieve, we can’t and won’t! If our inner voice keeps telling us that nobody likes us or that God cannot love us, we will never rise up to the heights God has called us to. “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9). We cannot comprehend how God sees us, but we know He sees with the eyes of perfect love. There is irrefutable proof! “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
God’s love is a perfect love, so glorious that we cannot begin to comprehend its heights and depths. “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
We cannot blame who we are on anyone but ourselves, because Christ gives us a new life and recreates us to conform to His likeness. I was born in a home without love, without Christ and His goodness, and without a future. I was reborn into a new life, filled with God’s love. I can walk and talk with God. I now can live according to His plans and purposes for my life. There are no hindrances as long as I live my life in Christ and am led of His Spirit. The kingdom I am now a part of stretches from this earth into the realms of glory. All my impossibilities have become possibilities through Christ. I had never seen the glories of God…until I met Christ. He daily invites me to “come up higher” through Him because He has much to show and teach me. What excitement! What glory I see in God! I have a mansion prepared for me, perfect health awaits me, no corruption or sin, no more tears and no more death. I have life abundantly here on earth and a constant friend, counselor, and Savior. My future is filled with God’s glory. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32).
Let us pray: Our heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ, we bow our knees before You and confess that You are Lord of our lives. If we have besetting sins, reveal them to us. We want to be whole so there are no hindrances to Your work in us. Show us those things that keep us from being all You have called us to be; Your ambassadors, lights and salt to the world. Assign us our work for Your kingdom’s glory. Give us Your kind of love for the lost, captive, and dying. Satan’s work is all around us, but may our lives shine as a beacon of Your light and love. May we lead the lost to You! Anoint us and fill us with Your Spirit. “And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts’” (Revelation 21:6). “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ and let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ and let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).